“Citizen Science” projects include a wide range of activities from the simple to the sophisticated. And a case in Western New York proves that the practice can have a significant impact on the health and well-being of communities. We spoke with the woman behind that example, Erin Heaney, about the promise and potential of harnessing the efforts of a growing volunteer network that is becoming engaged in scientific research and data collection. She recently attended a meeting at the Wilson Center hosted by The Commons Lab, a project of the Center’s Science Technology and Innovation Program.
Erin Heaney is Director of the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York. She ran the grassroots campaign against Tonawanda Coke Corporation that resulted in a raid of the plant, the federal indictment of the company’s environmental control manager, a consent order with the US EPA and the reduction of benzene emissions by 86% in the Town of Tonawanda. Erin serves on the Steering Committee of the Western New York Environmental Alliance and is the founding co-chair of the organization’s Environmental Justice Working Group.