Tired of the stench, dirty water, and negative health effects in her Michigan farming community, Sierra Club Water Sentinel Lynn Henning took action. On the receiving end of Lynn’s activism? Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), proliferating in Lynn’s town, that had been polluting the surrounding environment through unsound waste disposal practices. The CAFOs generated feces, urine, decaying carcasses, hormones, pesticides, and blood that eventually ended up in local, public waterways. Lynn gathered thousands of water samples and reported the horrifying results to state regulators. Despite experiencing intimidation practices like a blown up mailbox, Lynn remained undeterred and more determined to bring the CAFOs to justice.
As a result of her efforts, in October, Vreba-Hoff Dairy, a mega-dairy cartel in Lynn’s community, went into a $55 million foreclosure, got nailed by the State of Michigan for $580,000 lien for unpaid environmental fines, and decided to shut down 16 mega-dairies. For her hard work, Lynn was awarded the 2010 Goldman Environmental Prize for North America, giving her the opportunity to meet President Obama. Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine also named Lynn in its 2010 Power List.
(Photo: Lynn Henning meets President Obama on behalf of her Goldman Prize; Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)