Neil Carman Wins National Sierra Club Award


Neil Carman, long time Clean Air Director for the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, has won the Virginia Ferguson Award, one of six awards given annually by the Sierra Club nationally to recognize Club employees for their outstanding accomplishments and achievements. Neil is one of only a handful of Club employees at the chapter level who have been honored with such a national award. This is the second time that an employee of the Lone Star Chapter has received such an award (Chapter Director Ken Kramer won the Virginia Ferguson Award in 2005).

The Virginia Ferguson Award, as described by the Sierra Club, “honors an employee, with at least three years of service, who has demonstrated consistent and exemplary service to the Sierra Club.” The award description goes on to say that: “Commitment to the organization is demonstrated not only through competence, but also in the congenial attitude, extraordinary spirit, and unquestionable integrity that makes this recipient’s performance an inspiration to the rest of the staff.”

Neil Carman’s Work

Neil Carman became the Clean Air Director for the Lone Star Chapter 20 years ago in 1992. Prior to coming to work for the Sierra Club, Neil was an air pollution control inspector for the State of Texas for 12 years. Through his practical knowledge of air pollution sources in Texas as well as his graduate education in biology and chemistry (Neil is a Ph.D.) Neil has brought to the Sierra Club and its Texas chapter a wealth of technical expertise and a knowledge of industrial air pollution and toxic substances that has added immensely to the ability of the Club to go head to head with industry in Texas – and win!

Moreover, despite Neil’s technical background he has the ability to work well with citizens and community groups and to translate his expertise into information that these folks are able to understand and use in their fights to protect their health and that of their families and communities. For example, one of the first major initiatives in which Neil was involved after joining the Chapter staff was to provide technical assistance and to people of color groups in East Austin who were opposing the continued operation of petroleum product facilities (“tank farms”) clustered in their neighborhoods. Eventually that fight was won, and the facilities were shut down and removed from the area. Neil’s involvement not only helped the community justice groups in this effort but also immensely enhanced the credibility of the Sierra Club with these organizations.

Since those early years Neil’s expertise has been invaluable a number of other environmental battles:  helping the Lone Star Chapter and its partners end the state’s “grandfathering” of dirty old industrial air polluters (who had been exempted from the requirements of the 1971 state air pollution control law), working with the Chapter and partners Environment Texas and public interest attorneys to achieve settlement of landmark legal cases with Shell and Chevron that have resulted in significant reductions in air emissions form their plants in the Houston-Galveston area, and assisting the Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign to fight proposed and existing polluting coal plants in Texas, to name just a few accomplishments. Neil is long overdue for national recognition of his work in Texas, and the Lone Star Chapter salutes Neil for his award.


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