This month we are honoring Janis Hallowell as our Climate Hero of the Month! Janis has been involved with 350 Colorado over the past four years in a variety of capacities, and is a critically acclaimed novelist, potter, farmer and climate advocate.

She has spent 2021 advocating for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to plug oil and gas wells

Woman holding small child using a new method she has helped to coin, called ‘Carbon Plugging’. Carbon Plugging utilizes biochar (charcoal produced from plant matter) and other green materials in the well plug. The benefits of carbon plugging include stronger more flexible cement, a lower carbon footprint for the plug making it carbon neutral or carbon negative, lowering of greenhouse gas emissions, binding of toxic chemical pollution, sequestration of significant carbon, and remediation of soil around the oil and gas well site.

Janis has been actively meeting with state oil and gas commissioners advocating for innovative ways to solve Colorado’s orphan well problem, and in October she organized an educational docket for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission which involved coordinating international experts on biochar who presented on the matter. She has been a strong champion of innovative and forward-thinking solutions, and is advocating for Colorado to become the first state in the nation to pilot the use of biochar in plugging oil and gas wells. 

Janis has been moving the premise and solution of carbon plugging forward with commissioners, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, legislators and scientists. Due to Janis’s hard work and tenacity and that of her colleagues, Montana and Alabama are starting to plug spent wells this way. Colorado has not yet adopted Carbon Plugging but it is hoped that they will.

Janis is a true climate champion and has done everything in her power to advance climate solutions and advocate for real solutions to Colorado’s oil and gas problems,” shares Deb McNamara, 350 Colorado’s Campaign Director. “She is always ready to lend her skills, insight and passion to strategically solve the issues we are facing today. She consistently sees opportunities for change-making and leadership, and takes action in a truly thoughtful and thorough way. We are so grateful to Janis for her tireless work on climate issues and the many ways she is a strong climate leader.” 

Janis has been involved with 350 Colorado in a number of capacities, joining the 350 Boulder County team’s local events, writing for the 350 Colorado newsletter and blog, and being involved in a number of committees including the 350 CO Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Rulemaking Committee and the 350 CO Fracking Action Committee. She has also supported our ongoing legislative efforts, being a strong champion of climate legislation. 

Janis sees the skills gained in 30 years as a novelist having direct application to fighting the climate crisis. Both require tenacity, thinking outside of boxes, being creative, and the ability to hold disparate ideas over time and finding ways for those ideas to come together in solutions that make sense. She thinks taking hold of a good solution for a climate problem is the same as taking hold of a good book idea and not letting go until an elegant and satisfying result is achieved. 

We are so grateful to Janis for all the ways she is working to make our world a more sustainable one, and for the many ways she continues to work to solve the climate crisis with creativity and gusto!