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Alex Halperin Wins March Sidney for American Prospect Article on Risks of Natural Gas Drilling


Audrey Thweatt
[email protected]


April 15, 2009

NEW YORK: The Hillman Foundation announced today that Alex Halperin has won the March Sidney award for “Drill, Maybe Drill?”, his feature in The American Prospect which examines whether the plans for extensive natural-gas drilling in upstate New York are a “ticket out of economic depression – or a serious environmental risk.”

Sidney Award judge Charles Kaiser said, “Halperin’s piece does a great job of illuminating a burgeoning national issue – the quick expansion of a barely regulated industry whose environmental dangers are only beginning to be looked at, particularly in New York state.”

As Halperin writes, “despite objections from environmentalists about water use and chemicals, shale drilling is poised to be a big part of the world’s energy future.”  Although a de facto moratorium on drilling is currently in effect in New York, gas companies are rushing to secure the minerals rights of landowners across upstate New York, some of whom are eager to cash in on signing bonuses and royalties.

“The Endocrine Disruption Exchange obtained data on 246 products used in natural-gas production in Colorado and found that more than 40 percent contain chemicals that disrupt hormonal processes,” Halperin reports. In 2005, the Energy Policy Act exempted hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act and other environmental regulations, “an addition sometimes called the ‘Halliburton loophole.’  Now congressional democrats have proposed tighter regulations, and the industry has predictably howled in disapproval.”

Halperin is 31 years old and lives in Brooklyn.  This was his first piece for The American Prospect.  He is a former reporter for and Dow Jones.  He spent a year covering business and economic development topics in sub-Saharan Africa on a fellowship with the Phillips Foundation. His work has appeared in publications including FortuneSlaten+1Institutional InvestorFast CompanyEarth Island Journal, The Cambodia Daily and the Financial Times magazine. Halperin is also a non-fiction editor at the online magazine Guernica.

This month the Hillman Foundation would also like to give a special mention to Ladd Biro, who has reported on natural-gas drilling in Texas. Biro's op-eds in The Cross Timbers Gazette show how the massive drilling under way in the state has prompted a spate of community organizing. Read one of his pieces here.

The Sidney Award is given once a month to an outstanding piece of socially-conscious journalism by the Sidney Hillman Foundation, which also awards the annual Hillman Prizes every spring. Winners of the Sidney receive $500, a certificate designed by New Yorker cartoonist Edward Sorel, and a bottle of union made wine. Nominations can be submitted here.

Read an interview with Halperin about his piece here.


Certificate designed by Edward Sorel

The Sidney is awarded monthly to a piece published in an American magazine, newspaper, on a news site, or a blog. Television and radio broadcasts by an American news outlet are also eligible, as are published photography series.

Deadlines are the last day of each month. The piece must have been published in the month preceding the deadline. In the case of magazines, please nominate according to the issue date on the publication, not when it first appeared.

Nominations are accepted for one's own work, or for someone else's.

The Foundation will announce a winner on the second Wednesday of each month. Recipients will be awarded $500, a bottle of union-made wine, and a certificate designed especially for the Sidney by New Yorker cartoonist, Edward Sorel.

If you wish to nominate yourself or a piece by anyone else, please click here for our nomination form.If you have any further questions about the nomination process, please send your inquiry to [email protected]