April 20, 2010
NSAC offers heartfelt congratulations to Lynn Henning, a southern Michigan farmer who has been awarded the 2010 Goldman Environmental Prize for U.S. grassroots environmental activism. The Prize is recognition of Lynn’s unstinting work in exposing the impacts of pollution from large-scale concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), especially mega-dairies, in her southern Michigan community and across the upper Midwest.
Lynn’s activism began in 2000 when she joined with neighbors to form the Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan (ECCSCM) and began to take water samples and photographs to document CAFO environmental violations that threaten the environment and public health. As with many local activists fighting powerful interests, Lynn and her family have been personally threatened and harassed. In addition to dead animals left on her porch and the bombing of her mailbox, Lynn has also been run off the road while taking water samples in publicly accessible locations and equipment on her family farm has been damaged.
Lynn volunteered with the Water Sentinel Program of the Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter and became a staff member with the Chapter in 2005. Her work with Sierra Club and the ECCSM has produced a better record of CAFO violations than that of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). She has since expanded her work in Michigan to help form a statewide committee made up of representatives of the departments of agriculture and health, the DEQ, and Michigan citizens groups. The Committee is charged with conducting a first-ever assessment state level of the environmental impacts of CAFOs on public health. Lynn also assists other communities in challenging CAFOs. Some of her investigation techniques have been incorporated into EPA investigations of CAFOs.
On April 19, Lynn was joined in San Francisco by five other grassroots activists receiving a Goldman prize as leaders of grassroots activism in their countries. A smaller award ceremony will be held on Wednesday, April 21 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.