In 2015 Mike and the North Nashville communities of Joelton, Whites Creek and Bordeaux found themselves in the path of a massive fossil fuel infrastructure expansion effort. A 60,000 HP compressor station, among the largest in the United States, was to be constructed in the midst of an otherwise thriving community and contribute a steady stream of toxic emissions(methane, benzene, NOx, CO) into the atmosphere(significantly impacting Nashville’s overall attainment) as well as raising internal pressures and reversing flow along several poorly-maintained systems of Interstate Gas Pipelines crossing Tennessee. There was to be no discussion with the community and a very limited time to even comment! When neighbors asked for help, Mike was happy to oblige.
Studying the route of the pipeline, Mike spent a great deal time photographing various hazards and problems at waterway crossings and other exposures/anomalies, in some cases deep in the back-country. While the community group CCSE (Concerned Citizens For A Safe Environment) mounted a grassroots campaign to challenge the compressor via legislation at Nashville Metro City Council, Mike compiled the 2015 Field Study Of Gas Pipeline Safety In TN and submitted it to environmental regulators at all levels of government. Congressman Jim Cooper subsequently called for a congressional inquiry into pipeline infrastructure maintenance across the US. PHMSA Inspectors were dispatched to view the various sites identified in the field study.
Note: Due to the varying size of some of the images below, this page is best viewed on a computer rather than a telephone. Text may shift with photo size.
Click Here to view the WSMV story about US Congressman Jim Cooper’s call for a congressional inquiry into gas pipeline infrastructure maintenance across the US.
In 2016, as word spread of the unconstitutional violation of human rights and the tribal sovereignty of the Lakota Sioux tribe by the Dakota Access Pipeline, Mike worked in partnership with numerous local state and national organizations to gather support materials and donations for the Oceti Sakowin camp blocking the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.
After witnessing the systematic violation of the rights of the indigenous tribes gathered at the excavation site and the violence unleashed by the private army assembled on the side of the Oil and Gas industry, Mike became an advocate for fossil fuel divestment, clean energy diversification and investment, and a critic of the environmental racism and abuse of marginalized communities across the US by fossil fuel interests and their enablers, and especially the obscene taxpayer subsidies awarded annually to this destructive industry iron fisted grip on US energy policy. He remains committed to seeing the end of fossil fuel subsidies and energy policy hegemony and utilizes his platform as an artist to lend support to communities facing unwanted fossil fuel development.
In spite of the catastrophic rollback of fossil fuel regulation and enforcement, protection for public lands and clean energy development from 2016- 2020, Mike feels hopeful and inspired by a new generation of climate leaders. While climate change continues unabated and frontline communities continue to bear the brunt of our addiction to fossil fuels, we must act decisively to end taxpayer subsidies benefitting fossil fuels and diversify our energy portfolio on a scale of renewal that can only be compared to the industrialization of the US during WWII. With this same sense of urgency, we can make the systemic changes needed for our civilization to continue to thrive, by building the clean, renewable energy paradigm and addressing systemic disparity in all our communities.
What choice do we really have?