By Shereen Siewert

Citizens for a Clean Wausau, a local grassroots environmental group, will expand their environmental justice efforts thanks to a grant from the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, or CHEJ.

The local group was selected for funding through a competitive nationwide application process. Since its founding in 1981, CHEJ has grown into the nation’s leading resource for grassroots environmental activism, and was started by Lois Gibbs after she led the historic fight to relocate more than 800 of her neighbors away from toxic waste in the Love Canal neighborhood of Niagara Falls, New York, according to a CCW news release

CCW’s work has been recognized statewide and now nationally. In the recent past, the group’s research and efforts sparked or contributed to multiple Department of Natural Resources (DNR) investigations. Just months ago, CCW was awarded the statewide Citizen Openness Award (“Copee”) at the 9th Annual Wisconsin Watchdog Awards from the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council – one of only roughly a handful of watchdog awards from the council in the entire state.

CCW Spokesperson, Tom Kilian, stated: “We are truly honored and excited to have been selected for this CHEJ grant. It will facilitate the group’s strategic plan, structuring and expansion, while affording us invaluable training. Our efforts to date supporting Environmental Justice and the community are just the beginning.”

The group, inspired by environmental challenges and revelations pertaining to Wausau’s southwest side and the Thomas Street neighborhood, monitors the activities and impacts of significant current and past polluters, according to the CCW website. They focus on research and communication as well as action in supporting regulators’ efforts in testing, remediation and enforcement of environmental laws and standards.

Top photo: Courtesy of Citizens for a Clean Wausau