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Public Lab Research note


Seeking Environmental Policy Fellow for Fellowship Team

by stevie | August 11, 2021 21:12 11 Aug 21:12 | #27475 | #27475

Public Lab is seeking an Environmental Policy Fellow

Starting: August 30, 2021 or ASAP

Commitment Period: roughly 6-8hr/week September - May

Fellowship Stipend: $6,600USD in total over the commitment period.

Where: This fellowship is open to anyone and is remote; phone in team meetings will be held on EST and be grounded in community efforts in West Virginia.

Requirements for the position: This fellowship will require remote work abilities, comfortable working across diverse stakeholder groups, and strong communication skills (verbal/written).

About Public Lab:

Join our newest fellowship team to bring about a healthier and more equitable world through community science, open technology, and the advancement of environmental justice. Public Lab supports, develops, and applies open-source tools to further environmental exploration and investigation. By democratizing inexpensive and accessible do-it-yourself techniques, Public Lab creates a collaborative network of knowledge bearers and practitioners who actively reimagine the human relationship with the environment.

About the Issue:

For well over a century the coal industry has exploited the people and natural resources of West Virginia. The technology they have developed over the past four decades specifically has allowed them to destroy and poison the environment to an almost unbelievable extent, all in the name of maximizing profit. Large scale surface mining, also known as mountaintop removal not only deforests thousands of acres per mine site, but completely destroys the landscape leaving behind only bare rock and rubble. The biologically diverse forests that used to set where these mines now exist can never be replaced, the topsoil that allowed them to exist is now buried under valley fills. The bedrock that once formed some of the oldest mountains on the planet is blasted apart and turned into toxic dust clouds that settle on the communities below.

The state regulatory agency, the West Virginia Department of Environmental protection has been in the pocket of the coal industry since it's conception. The agency only exists to facilitate the whims of the industry and there is a revolving door between the DEP and the coal industry. This, as you might imagine, makes it difficult to hold the industry accountable to our relatively lax environmental laws, but not impossible. Over the years we at Coal River Mountain Watch have discovered a handful of methods that we employ in the pursuit of chipping away at the profit margins of coal companies. One of the most successful tactics has been in observing, documenting, and monitoring mining activity and reporting on them to the DEP. The intent behind this fellowship team is to support our continued work against the coal industry using drones and other forms of observation to document violations of environmental law, and pressure the DEP to take appropriate action. The fines incurred by the coal company are a pittance and are factored into the cost of doing business. The main goal of this work is to make the company pull workers and equipment away from actively mining coal in order to fix a problem they created.

About the Fellowship

The three major components of this Fellowship are to:

  • Investigate surface mining permits in West Virginia and create clear documentation around permit statuses.
  • Research state and federal environmental regulations in order to find new and innovative ways to hold the coal mining industry accountable
  • Identify tactics that concerned citizens in communities around surface mines can use to document illegal actions and permit violations.

Work flow:

  • Communicate the Community Fellow’s findings of potential permit violations to the DEP and follow up with them to raise the pressure on the agency to take action.
  • Regularly meet with the fellowship team (twice a month), working closely with the Community
  • Organizer to collaborate on local documentation and reporting around mining site concerns.

The Fellow will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn methods used by community-led documentation and accountability groups who are working with unwanted land use issues.
  • Learn how to use PublicLab.org and regularly post documentation on the website detailing the progress of the project teams experiences; working in public to foster a culture of resource sharing and share learning moments.
  • Connect with the Public Lab community remotely through the website. Join the Public Lab monthly and quarterly public events online to share your fellowship experiences and learn more about environmental concerns.

This role may be for you if you are:

  • Detail oriented: You have excellent attention to detail and documentation skills; An exceptional written and oral communicator: You have excellent interpersonal skills
  • Practiced at researching company permits and understanding them. Practiced at reading and providing clarity around environmental law on the state and or federal level.
  • You’re a problem-solver who is often praised for your organization and ability to learn quickly and adaptively
  • Team-oriented: You work collaboratively with remote colleagues, to envision and promote positive change, and to be supportive of others. You bring integrity to all situations.
  • A collaborator: You've worked with people with different backgrounds, and from different fields and lived experiences; you're able to communicate on environmental science.
  • Tech savvy: You thrive working in a remote work environment and a commitment to use related communication platforms daily to interact with the team (Slack, Zoom, Google Drive etc); you are excited to learn new programs and share about technology and monitoring in the context of advocacy.
  • Self-directed: You work successfully with minimal supervision. You can organize work, set and meet your own internal milestones, and communicate regularly and often when help is required.

To Apply

To submit your application, please complete the Policy Fellow Application form to tell us more about your experience, share your resume, and complete a writing sample. All instructions are within the application form.

If you have any questions, please reach out to stevie@publiclab.org and include Policy Fellow in your subject line. No phone calls, please.

This Fellowship will be hosted through Public Lab. Public Lab is committed to a diverse, multicultural work environment and we strive for our team members to reflect the lived experiences and diversity of our global community. We encourage people with different ability sets, people of color, and people of diverse sexual orientations, gender expressions, and identities to apply.


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