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Hero 2019: Itai Vardi, Investigative Journalist, Expert on Secrets and Silences

March 18 is the anniversary of the 1937 Texas School Explosion, a gas explosion that killed more than 300 people, mostly students, in their new state-of-the-art public school where no expense had been spared except when it came to safety. Every year, to mark the anniversary of this preventable tragedy, I salute someone with an extraordinary sense of responsibility and commitment to the safety of children and their communities.

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A Cautionary Tale

It is also an annual opportunity to talk about the 1937 disaster’s unfinished legacy and its lessons.

Saluting Investigative Journalist Itai Vardi.

Itai Vardi is dedicated to exposing the patterns of corruption and distortion in the health and environmental impact assessments and the permitting of fossil fuel infrastructure projects. He reveals how individuals and groups associated with climate denial or science obfuscation violate scientific standards. He doesn’t take it for granted that public officials and elected representatives prioritize community safety and health.

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Blackboard found in the rubble. Photo. Goldberg. MUSEUM

Breaking the Silence. “Never take any public statement at face value from people in power.”

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Itai Vardi

Seeking Accountability

Vardi’s questions have been particularly useful in exposing the lack of integrity at many points in the process of permitting the proposed Weymouth Compressor Station project in Massachusetts.

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Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility report Health Risks of A Proposed Compressor Station in Weymouth, (February 7, 2019).

Documenting Historical Patterns of Disenfranchisement

Outraged residents “flooded both Warren’s and Markey’s offices with requests for intervention” after Vardi revealed that Massachusetts regularly allowed energy companies, including Enbridge, to edit draft pollution permits, (DeSmog, Itai Vardi, May 23, 2017). And following his revelations on conflicts of interest in the federal review of Spectra Energy’s (later Enbridge) Atlantic Bridge project (DeSmog, Itai Vardi, July 31, 2016) U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey wrote to FERC Chairperson Norman Bay, citing DeSmog’s findings at length and expressing serious concern over the integrity of Atlantic Bridge’s environmental assessment.

Becoming an Investigative Journalist

Itai Vardi was born in Israel and grew up in both the US and Israel, where he worked as a journalist for 7 years. He earned undergraduate degrees from Tel Aviv University in philosophy and political science and a master’s in sociology.

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Follow Itai Vardi @itai_vardi

DeSmog articles: https://www.desmogblog.com/user/itai-vardi

Huffington Post articles: https://www.huffpost.com/author/itai-vardi

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Photo Goldberg, February 7, 2019. Mural, Massachusetts Statehouse. Mothers Out Front demonstration tags added.

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Advocate for healthy children, safe schools and sustainable communities. www.healthy-kids.info

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