SkyTruth 2017 Annual Report
If you can see it, you can CHANGE it
Message From the President
We were braced for it, but it still hurt: from a policy perspective, 2017 turned out to be about as bad for conservation as we had feared at the close of 2016. The environment is one area where President Trump has kept many of his promises. His administration has killed or rolled back a host of regulations that would have improved the nation’s air quality and public health, mitigated the impact of mining on the nation’s streams and rivers, decreased our contribution to global warming, and increased the energy efficiency of our trucks, automobiles, and household appliances. He has vigorously promoted the increased production and use of fossil fuels, fast-tracking the auctioning of public lands and waters for mining and drilling. And with the eager cooperation of his allies in Congress, he has launched an assault on the nation’s bedrock environmental laws, threatening to strip endangered species of protection, limit public access to information, and throttle public participation in government decision making.
This is not only anti-environment, it is anti-democracy.
How do we respond? By confronting opacity with transparency. By bearing witness and speaking truth to power. By standing up for the institutions and values that actually do make this country great. By boldly embracing facts, logic, and rationality.
At SkyTruth, we used our most effective tools and skills throughout 2017 to promote the public’s ability to know and understand how our lands and waters are being managed. Among other things, we:
- Built a new mountaintop removal mining visualization tool that allows users to explore, measure, and generate simple reports on the impact of surface coal mining in 74 counties across Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee and Virginia.
- Expanded on our previous work showing the locations of natural gas flaring events detected by satellite worldwide, by creating a new interactive map revealing the actual amounts of gas burned.
- Responded to the fierce hurricane season by launching SkyTruth Spill Tracker, a map-based tool that allows citizens on the ground in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean to quickly report oil and hazardous waste spills and other pollution incidents as a result of storm damage to energy and chemical facilities.
- Learned that public health studies — made possible by SkyTruth’s crowd-assisted FrackFinder program — were cited by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan as he reinstated a ban on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in that state.
- Received over a hundred mentions in the media, from Appalachia to Indonesia.
- Reached over 6000 followers on our Facebook page, and attended or participated in 14 conferences and panels.
We also successfully launched Global Fishing Watch as an independent non-profit organization. As a GFW research partner our close relationship benefits both organizations: SkyTruth team members used Global Fishing Watch data to automate the detection of transshipment of fish at sea, a key enabler of overfishing and illegal activity; and our team in Jakarta worked with Indonesian fisheries officials and staff to help them live up to their public commitments to bring transparency to fisheries management.
In the following sections, you will learn more about SkyTruth’s 2017 activities and successes. As we cope with a post-truth world, be assured that SkyTruth will continue to make the invisible, visible, for all the world to see. Because if you can see it, you can change it.
“The Worldview image is exactly what I’m looking for, enabling New Mexico policy makers and the public to see the inexcusable amounts of natural gas flaring by oil and gas companies in the NM Permian. Fantastic. We’re setting the stage for a state Venting, Flaring & Leak rule and the image belies industry’s claims that they are already fixing the problem, showing just how widespread flaring really is.”
Selected Media Mentions
SkyTruth uses the view from space to motivate people to protect the environment. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, with offices across the United States and in Indonesia. We believe more transparency leads to better management and better outcomes. By sharing our findings – stunning imagery and robust science-based data – with the public for free, we move policy makers, governments and corporations towards more responsible behavior and more accountability for the environment.