Director of Media Relations, The Public Interest Network
Director of Media Relations, The Public Interest Network
DENVER — Summer officially starts Tuesday, but throughout many parts of the western and southwestern United States, “wildfire season” is now virtually year-round — for example, Colorado’s most destructive fire ever, the Marshall Fire, erupted in Boulder County last Dec. 30. According to the June wildfire outlook from the National Interagency Fire Center, “year-to-date acres burned for the US is approximately 112% above the 10-year average.”
The Public Interest Network (which includes PIRG, Environment America and state groups in often-impacted Western and Southwestern states including Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington) is sharing information to help contextualize the major environmental, health and consumer concerns posed by the wildfires that will inevitably come this summer.
Information on wildfires:
Steve Blackledge, [email protected], is the senior director of Environment America’s conservation program. He led our successful national campaign to win full, permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Program through the Great American Outdoors Act. Steve’s team works to protect our lands and waters — from the Tongass National Forest in Alaska to the Florida Keys. They advocate for the wildlife with which we share our planet, including gray wolves, sage grouse and more. Steve has appeared on and in a wide variety of media outlets, including on CBS This Morning. He lives in Sacramento.
Matt Casale, [email protected], is the director of PIRG’s environment campaigns. Matt oversees PIRG’s toxics, transportation and zero waste campaigns, and leads The Public Interest Network’s climate program to promote a cleaner, healthier future for all Americans. Matt works on campaigns to facilitate the shift away from fossil fuels across all sectors to mitigate the impacts of climate change, including longer, more destructive wildfire seasons.This spring, Matt was a featured expert on a panel and a tour at the Society of Environmental Journalists’ annual conference. Matt has been quoted on transportation and climate issues in many major publications, including the New York Times and Washington Post. He lives in Western Massachusetts.
Ellen Montgomery, [email protected], is the director of Environment America’s public lands campaigns, working to protect America’s beautiful places, from local beachfronts to remote mountain peaks. Prior to her current role, Ellen worked as the organizing director for Environment America’s Climate Defenders campaign. Ellen lives in Denver.
Teresa Murray, [email protected] is director of PIRG’s Consumer Watchdog program. She has written or overseen reports and analyses on topics including price gouging during emergencies, toxic consumer products and scams. She’s passionate about educating people about predatory tactics they may face when they’re vulnerable. Prior to joining PIRG in 2020, Teresa worked as a business journalist and consumer columnist for more than 20 years for Ohio’s largest daily newspaper. Her work with PIRG has been featured by outlets including CNN, NPR, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Teresa lives in Cleveland.
Johanna Neumann, [email protected], is the senior director of Environment America’s Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy. Johanna oversees our work to set ambitious clean energy goals at the state and national level and make sure Americans understand the benefits that renewable sources of energy, especially solar and wind, bring to our communities vs. the dangers of fossil fuels and nuclear power. Johanna has been quoted in major publications including the Washington Post, The Hill and CNN. Last summer, she appeared in an NBC News package about solar power and battery storage keeping the lights on during natural disasters. Johanna lives in Western Massachusetts
For help in specific Western and Southwestern states:
Dyani Chapman, [email protected], is Alaska Environment Action’s state director. In the last 6 years, she’s directed door to door canvass offices and worked with citizen outreach offices and efforts throughout the western United States on a variety of environmental issues from reducing the use of single use plastics to passing legislation to ensure a state reaches 100% renewable energy. Dyani lives in Anchorage.
Laura Deehan, [email protected], is Environment California’s state director. She stepped into the state director role in January 2021 after about 20 years on staff. Laura has led campaigns to make sure California goes big on offshore wind, to save solar and to get lead out of school drinking water. Laura has appeared in and on a wide array of California and national media, especially during last October’s massive oil spill off the Southern California coast, when the New York Times, USA Today, NBC News and NPR, among others, quoted her. Laura lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Jenn Engstrom, [email protected], is CALPIRG’s state director. She is a leading voice in Sacramento and across the state on protecting public health, consumer protections and defending our democracy. Before moving into her current role, Jenn led CALPIRG’s organizing team for years and managed our citizen outreach offices across the state, running campaigns to ban single-use plastic bags, stop the overuse of antibiotics and promote 100% renewable energy. Jenn lives in Los Angeles.
Dan Jacobson, [email protected], is Environment California’s senior advisor. Dan provides campaign strategy and policy guidance for Environment California’s program and organizational plans. He has successfully advocated for the passage of dozens of bills into law, including measures to ban toxic chemicals, bring 1 million solar roofs to California, and commit the state to divest from coal. He ran the campaign for SB 100, California’s law setting a goal of 100% clean energy by 2045. Dan was named one of Capitol Weekly’s “Top 100 Lobbyists” in California in 2008. He lives in Sacramento.
Danny Katz, [email protected], has been the director of CoPIRG for more than a decade. Danny co-authored a groundbreaking report on the state’s transit, walking and biking needs and is a co-author of the annual “State of Recycling” report. He serves on several Colorado state and Denver regional transportation committees. With his expertise, Danny lobbies federal, state and local elected officials on transportation electrification, multimodal transportation, zero waste, consumer protection and public health issues. He appears frequently in local media outlets and is active in a number of coalitions. Danny lives in Denver.
Rex Wilmouth, [email protected], is the senior program manager for Environment Colorado. He works to promote clean air, clean water, clean energy and open spaces in Colorado. He started his career as an organizer with NJPIRG before becoming the organizing director for CoPIRG Student Chapters, and then legislative director and state director for CoPIRG. Rex lives in Denver.
Charlie directs OSPIRG’s campaigns to rein in the cost of health care, get big money out of politics and stand up for consumers. In a previous role with Environment Oregon, Charlie was part of successful efforts to increase Oregon’s clean energy commitments and get the state off coal. Charlie’s work has earned coverage in the Oregonian and other local and regional news outlets. Charlie lives in Portland.
Celeste Meiffren-Swango, [email protected] is the director of Environment Oregon. She has worked on issues ranging from preventing plastic pollution, stopping global warming, defending clean water, and protecting our beautiful places. Celeste’s organizing has helped to reduce kids’ exposure to lead in drinking water at childcare facilities in Oregon, encourage transportation electrification, ban single-use plastic grocery bags, defend our bedrock environmental laws and more. She is also the author of the children’s book, Myrtle the Turtle, which empowers kids to prevent plastic pollution. Celeste lives in Portland.
Luke Metzger, [email protected], is the director of Environment Texas. He has led successful campaigns to win permanent protection for the Christmas Mountains of Big Bend; to compel Exxon, Shell, Chevron Phillips and Petrobras to cut air pollution at four Texas refineries and chemical plants; and to boost state funding for water conservation and parks. This spring, Luke was a featured expert on three panels/tours at the Society of Environmental Journalists’ annual conference. He has extensive on-air experience, including appearances on CNN, MSNBC and NPR. He’s also been quoted widely by publications including the Guardian, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Luke lives in Austin.
Pam Clough, [email protected], is an advocate with Environment Washington. She has spent the last 8 years supporting a variety of public interest campaigns across the U.S., from restoring clean water act protections through the Waters of the United States rule, to the passage of Washington’s 2021 plastic reduction act, which includes the country’s strongest ban on polystyrene foam. Pam lives in Steilacoom, Washington.
Nicole Walter, [email protected], is an advocate with WashPIRG. She has led campaigns to help pass statewide commitments to 100 percent clean electricity and single-use plastic bag bans in both California and Washington state. Nicole lives in Seattle.