Rock the Earth, a national not-for-profit environmental organization that partners with the music industry, has announced the winners of its Seventh-Annual Planet Defender Awards.

These awards pay tribute to those exceptional individuals who consistently work to protect our planet as environmental activists in the following categories: Artist, Community Leader and Grassroots Activist. In celebration of Earth Day, winners are chosen by Rock the Earth’s national volunteer staff. The 2012 Planet Defender Award winners are:

  • Artist: Willie Nelson
  • Community Leader: Amory Lovins
  • Grassroots Activist: Lynn Henning

“Since 2006, Rock the Earth has given the annual Planet Defenders Awards to inspirational defenders who uphold the ideals and environmental work and passion that our organization and members believe in,” said Marc Ross, Executive Director and founder of Rock the Earth. “We’d like to take Earth Day 2012 as an opportunity to highlight and honor the work of Willie, Amory and Lynn. Each is a committed environmentalist who truly embodies our mission of ‘Defending the Planet One Beat at a Time’.”

Willie Nelson is this year’s winner in the Artist category. With a six-decade career and 200 plus albums, this iconic Texan is the creative genius behind the historic recordings of Crazy, Red Headed Stranger and Stardust. Nelson has earned every conceivable award as a musician and amassed reputable credentials as an author, actor and activist. In 2010, he released"Willie Nelson’s Country Music," produced by award winning T Bone Burnett, and it received a GRAMMY Nomination for Best Americana Album. In 2011, Willie’s album releases included, “Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles,” a 12-tune cycle about the ups and downs of love with Wynton Marsalis and Norah Jones as well as “Remember Me Vol. 1,” his hand-picked 14-song collection of country music’s most definitive songs. Coming May of 2012 is “Heroes,” his first album for Legacy Recordings, which will showcase new songs and deep country classics with guest artists including Merle Haggard, Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson, Billy Joe Shaver, Sheryl Crow, Jamey Johnson, Lukas Nelson and Micah Nelson.

His philanthropic work goes back to 1985, where Nelson, along with Neil Young and John Mellencamp, set up Farm Aid to assist and increase awareness on the importance of family farms. In 2004, Nelson and his wife, Annie, became partners with Bob and Kelly King in the building of two sustainable biodiesel plants in Oregon and Texas. In 2005, Nelson and other business partners branded Willie Nelson Sustainable Biodiesel, a company that markets bio-fuel made from vegetable oil to truck stops. In 2010, Nelson received the Feed the Peace award from The Nobility Project for his extensive work with Farm Aid and overall contributions to world peace. In 2011, Nelson was inducted to the National Agricultural Hall of Fame for his labor in Farm Aid and other fundraisers to benefit farmers. Rock the Earth applauds Nelson for continually setting an example of how to ‘rock the earth’ diligently year after year.

“It’s an honor to receive the Planet Defender Award and to be recognized by an organization with similar values,” said Nelson. “I’m happy we share a love of music and the environment and use those passions to make the world a better place for generations to come. Thank you, Rock the Earth.”

Winner in the Community Leader category, Amory Lovins, is an American consultant, experimental physicist and 1993 MacArthur fellow, and co-founder, chairman and chief scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute. Lovins has been active at the nexus of energy, resources, environment, development and security in more than 50 countries for 35 years. He is widely considered among the world’s leading authorities on energy-especially its efficient use and sustainable supply-and a fertile innovator in integrative design. In 2009, TIME named him one of the most influential people in the world, and Foreign Policy, one of the 100 top global thinkers.

“Receiving the Planet Defender Award is an unusual honor,” said Lovins. “My colleagues and I at Rocky Mountain Institute drive the efficient and restorative use of natural resources, which groups like Rock the Earth help to protect and defend. Our efforts are complementary, and I greatly appreciate your efforts and this recognition. Thank you.”

This year’s Grassroots Activist category highlights Lynn Henning for her extraordinary commitment and focus on water quality, fighting pollution from concentrated animal feeding facilities. As a farmer, Sierra Club Water Sentinel, and ECCSCM member from Michigan, she exposed the egregious polluting practices of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), gaining the attention of the federal EPA and promoting state regulators to issue hundreds of citations for water quality violations. She was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2010. A fighter who has never given up protecting the community and the land she loves, Rock the Earth is proud to honor Henning as a recipient of its Planet Defenders Award. 

"Thank you for this accolade and recognition," said Henning. “Our future depends on healthy food, clean water, clean air and productive soil, but today’s industrial livestock operations put all that at risk. We need to work together, with organizations like Rock the Earth, to work with farmers to produce food with integrity and pride that protects our health, our children’s health and the health of generations to come.”

Find out more here.

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