News | March 4, 2015

SELC Reed Environmental Writing Award winners look at inequality, politics

A community’s struggle for environmental justice in Alabama and the money and politics driving current energy policy in North Carolina are the subjects covered by this year’s winners of SELC’s Reed Environmental Writing Award.

Ellen Griffith Spears, a member of the American studies faculty at the University of Alabama, won the Reed Award in the book category for Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town. Focusing on the legal fight against Monsanto over the dumping of PCBs in a historically African American and white working-class section of Anniston, Alabama, her book sheds light on the broader issue of environmental inequality.

The reporting staff of Environment and Energy Publishing won this year’s Reed Award in the journalism category for Turning Carolina Red: Reports from the Front of an Energy Culture War. The series looks at how North Carolina’s current political majority and its financial backers have changed environmental and energy policy in the state—from the pullback in enforcement revealed by Duke Energy’s coal ash spill to the push by lawmakers to open the state to fracking. 

SELC will present the awards during the Virginia Festival of the Book on Saturday, March 21, at our headquarters in Charlottesville, Virginia. The event will feature Bland Simpson, a noted writer and musician who received the 2005 North Carolina Award for Fine Arts, the state’s highest civilian honor. Author of several books of fiction and non-fiction, Simpson is also a member of the Tony Award-winning string band the Red Clay Ramblers.

For more than 20 years, SELC’s Philip D. Reed Environmental Writing Award has recognized the authors and journalists who use the power of the pen to capture the South’s natural wonders and to raise our awareness of the forces that would destroy them. Educating and engaging the public is central to the award’s mission and to SELC’s goal of safeguarding the South’s environment.

Read the press release.