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Forum for Undergraduate Environmental Leadership (FUEL)

The Woods Institute FUEL program seeks to provide a real world primer on critical issues of environmental concern, by opening up conversations with policymakers and professionals in careers at the forefront of solutions. The fall 2019 FUEL program “Chemicals in California” will again focus on pollution and pollution policy:  toxic substances in our air, water and land, and local and state responses given the environmental health threats they pose.

While issues of climate change have rightly moved to the fore, toxic chemicals in our environment broadly – pollutants and their consequences for health, the driving motivation for the modern environmental movement, our clean air and clean water protections, and EPA oversight – certainly have not gone away.

Nor have threats to scientific guidance and regulatory protections. As we see in real time, even as the science on toxics and environmental health effects becomes more clear, national agencies have appeared more inclined to suppress this information than engage in new debate over best policy courses, in light of improved scientific understanding.

Threats to protections are not only national, and we need not look to communities as far as Flint, Michigan. Look at Bayview and Hunters Point, in San Francisco. Look at Richmond or to the Central Valley. They mandate state and local responses, as well.

What are the environmental health threats in CA? How is CA responding? What environmental challenges do our local communities face, and how are local actors responding? How are municipalities leading? How does science weigh?


Program Overview:

The 2019 program will consist of a set of Friday afternoon salons with invited speakers. The first will provide an overview of existing legal and regulatory frameworks regarding toxic substances and environmental health protections. In other salons, we will meet with professionals engaged in various aspects. We are also planning two  community and policy field visits. The Woods Institute for the Environment offers the FUEL program at no cost to students.

Tentative schedule:

  • visit to Richmond to meet Communities for a Better Environment and participate in their “Toxic Tour” and discussion.  Visit joint with and organized by the “Introduction to Environmental Justice” course. (Date TBD, maybe Wednesday, October 2 or 9)
  • on-campus salons, Fridays: October 4, 11 & 18 from 12:30-2:00pm (Y2E2 383, lunch provided)
  • local and state stakeholders and policy responses, October 24-25 (overnight in Sacramento)



The program is open to Stanford undergraduates who are sophomores, juniors and seniors, and to co-terms who are still in undergraduate status (bachelor's degree not conferred).



The fall 2019 FUEL program of stakeholder, advocate and policymaker meetings is still being determined. However, the 2018 program was instructive, in which student participants met with and gained the perspectives of:

at Stanford
• Christine Gardner, Board Member, Environmental Working Group; Advisory Council, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
• Michael Wara, Senior Research Scholar, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

in Oakland
• Paulina Torres, Staff Attorney – Pesticides Campaign, Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment
• Alvaro Casanova, CA Policy Manager, Center for Environmental Health
• Kaya Sugerman, Litigation Coordinator, Center for Environmental Health
• Sue Chiang, Pollution Prevention Director, Center for Environmental Health

in Sacramento
• Bill Allayaud, California Director of Governmental Affairs, Enviromental Working Group
• Josh Tooker, Chief Consultant, Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, CA State Assembly
• Sam Delson, Deputy Director for External and Legislative Affairs, CA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
• Laura August, MPH, Research Scientist (CalEnviroScreen), CA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
• Shankar Prasad, MBBS, Staff Toxicologist (CalEnviroScreen), CA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
• Daryn Dodge, Ph.D., Staff Toxicologist (air toxics hot spots), CA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
• Julian Leichty, MPA, Special Assistant (Proposition 65), CA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
• Karl Palmer, Chief, Safer Consumer Products Branch, CA Dept. of Toxics Substances Control

in San Francisco (was optional for any participants who were interested)
• staff members from the Reducing Toxics and Healthy Ecosystems Program, and from other Programs, San Francisco Department of the Environment

Contact Information

Brian Sharbono
Associate Director, Programs