Lisa grew up around Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, attended college at Duquesne University, and began a decade-long career as a journalist. So when she learned of a plan to dump coal ash next to her family’s property, she knew how to dig.
Coal ash presented Lisa a struggle she had never encountered. She didn’t see herself as an environmentalist, but as a journalist she was committed to finding the facts.
But getting involved in public process isn’t easy – even though it’s supposed to be. Lisa has discovered a whole range of tactics the industry uses to discourage participation.
Recently, while giving a presentation about township rights related to gas drilling, she was shouted down by industry representatives. Lisa kept her head up. She made eye contact with the man, looking directly at him as she said, “My father always used to tell me, ‘He who shouts is losing.’”
This quieted the room. She assured those present that she would continue. And she did.
While that incident was confrontational, Lisa says it’s the more “normal” things industry does that we should look out for. Over the years she has seen patterns emerge. For example, industry representatives will treat a public hearing like a courtroom, try to establish themselves as the experts and accuse people of raising their concerns in the "wrong" way.
Public meetings are not courtrooms. Fracking is not inevitable. And comment periods exist so people can comment. Asking questions is not extreme. And opposing a process where serious health and environmental concerns are present…well that’s just common sense.
Lisa explains how industry will often present themselves with authority, and ridicule anyone who asks the important questions. She says it’s often in their “their demeanor and their presentation. It's been in my experience that industry wants to control the message.”
However, she says, “when citizens have the company’s own information, those facts help level the playing field and get citizen voices into the process.”
Lisa encourages others to be involved in reviewing industry projects – in fact, she says we must. Because of changes in regulations and oversight, it’s up to us to learn those skills and have the confidence to use them.
Lisa describes herself as stubborn – also as a protector. She wanted to see the data and check it twice. The impacts of fossil fuel industry are dangerous, and far too often proposals aren’t presenting the entire truth. That’s what motivated Lisa into the career she holds today doing Community Outreach with the Environmental Integrity Project.
For two decades Lisa has been helping people scrutinize proposals and permits for industry. She helps everyday people understand their rights, and know what important questions to ask.
Needless to say, Lisa makes it difficult for industry to move their agenda forward. If she’s not scrutinizing the details, she’s helping someone else do it.
Everybody can use a bit of encouragement – even those who dedicate so much time to encourage and educate others. We hope you take some time to leave a message for Lisa, or send a note we can add to the handmade card we’ll present her with from all those who support Raising Resistance. You can also listen to a more in-depth conversation with Lisa below!