Walter Hang on strategy, focus, and doing the work to crush industry plans.

Walter Hang from Toxics Targeting has led unprecedented victories against oil and gas projects in upstate NY – and in this interview he explains his strategy of balancing the message with an incredibly focused demand.

The trick, he says, is that there is no trick – there are no shortcuts to the hard work, training, and commitment we need to win. What’s remarkable is that even though it’s challenging, the principles are actually quite simple, but we need to avoid the mistake of pouring effort into campaign strategies that are ineffective.

In this episode you’ll gain some insight into how Walter has achieved so many victories, and in his words “crushed” pipeline project and other infrastructure demands of the oil & gas industry.

As mentioned in this episode:

  • Toxics Targeting at
  • Infrastructure Campaign Compilation
  • Despite FERC approval, groups in NY are still able to defeat the development of a massive regional storage hub for fracked gas.
  • The political argument “how can you support additional infrastructure for a dying industry?”…
  • great political argument, which is going to rally and build the movement… but it’s not the legal strategy.
  • When you identify the regulatory pressure points, identify exactly who you need to pressure on exactly which legal point. The ASK needs to be focused… The ask is different than the message which is how we organize a campaign.
  • Toxics targeting helps focus the activists legal strategies to be more effective. They help identify the points and focus the efforts like a battering ram to prevent infrastructure projects.


Walter Hang is the founder of Toxics Targeting, an consulting firm in Ithaca, NY that helps people understand toxic sites through New York State. He produces maps, reports, and publishes research with his team.

You don’t need to be in New York State to be involved with Toxics Targeting campaigns, or to learn about their work  – just contact or go to the website and look at the call to action in the bottom right of the page.

Core Message:

The trick is that there is no trick… to beat the fossil fuel industry and the politicians that favor them we need to work hard, build our network, and have a focused strategy with extremely clear demands. No tool, app, or social platform replaces the value of going door to door, building a campaign around a single (strategically sound) demand.


This podcast is a project of, a website and resource that connects you with leaders, activists, researchers, economists, legal experts, and funders to protect your community from oil & gas industry. Halt the Harm is a network of leaders who are taking action, sharing resources and information, and supporting each other’s campaigns. Find out more at

The soundtrack Halt the Harm podcast is”One of These Days” by Eilen Jewell from her album Sea of Tears.

Recorded, produced, and published by Ryan Clover in the studios WRFI Watkins Glen, Ithaca

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Halt the Harm Network is supported by Netcentric Campaigns.