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Middlebury senior earns national environmental award [video]

October 14, 2009

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.  Middlebury College senior Sierra Crane-Murdoch of Cropseyville, N.Y., is one of six recipients of the 2009 Brower Youth Award. Presented by Earth Island Institute, the Brower Youth Awards are one of North America's leading prizes for young environmental leaders.

According to the Earth Island Institute, Crane-Murdoch was chosen for her work to build a unified movement of grassroots activists battling coal. Crane-Murdoch co-founded Power Past Coal along with 40 grassroots activists personally impacted by the mining, processing and burning of coal. As national coordinator, Crane-Murdoch united diverse communities to work to convince President Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Congress to enact policies to transition away from coal.

The team publicized or coordinated at least one action protesting coal every day for the first 100 days of the Obama administration - eventually numbering 300 actions in total. The group reports that tens of thousands of citizens participated in marches, lobby days, rallies, town hall meetings, and acts of nonviolent civil disobedience.

Power Past Coal has been instrumental in building national pressure to move away from coal. Over the course of the project, more than 20 new coal plant permits and five mountaintop removal applications were denied or suspended, while the EPA committed to regulating carbon dioxide from coal plants and coal ash from slurry ponds.

"I strongly believe that Power Past Coal must continue to provide a direct link between the people whose voices must be heard, and the leaders who must hear them," said Crane-Murdoch.

This month, Earth Island Institute's Brower Youth Awards will celebrate its 10th anniversary of spotlighting North America's boldest young environmental leaders. Crane-Murdoch will join five other environmental leaders under the age of 23, each of whom will receive the Brower Youth Award and a $3,000 cash prize at a gala celebration in San Francisco on Oct. 20.

The six winners were chosen from more than 125 applicants for their creative and effective work tackling problems ranging from food justice to deforestation, global warming to pollution.

In the first ten years of the program, the 61 current and past award recipients have raised more than $1.4 million for environmental causes, trained more than 3,000 youth in advocacy, involved more than 32,000 in projects, implemented 20 university-wide environmental policies, passed eight pieces of legislation, organized more than 3,300 events and actions, produced more than 20 documentary films, and held more than 500 lobby meetings with elected officials.

The Brower Youth Awards are supported by Earth Island members, as well as Visa, Clif Bar, and Klean Kanteen. More information about the Award recipients and the Award is available at

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