About

The aim of this blog is to bring years of practical environmental law experience together into short texts on current and perpetual environmental problems, with the hope of helping decision makers better understand the environmental consequences of their actions. And to help everyone else better critique or support those decisions.

To further the SOG mission, I’ll try to aim these texts at governmental decisions with consequences, at least for people in and around the state of North Carolina in the United States of America. To me, history matters. Institutions, such as laws, policies and bureaucracies, matter. Academic disciplines shouldn’t matter. But they drive almost everything coming from the academies. Not, I hope, this blog. Having claimed that distance from disciplinarity, though, this blog will wander from time to time into the many insights that discipline-based academic research has produced relevant to environmental law and policy.

Copper Hill, TN near the NC and Georgia lines, from the space shuttle

Copper Hill, TN near the NC and Georgia lines, from the space shuttle

I’m trained as a lawyer and a public policy analyst, and have worked as a lawyer in the environmental field for over twenty-five years. I’ve worked for the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund (now Earthjustice) in Alaska and D.C., trying to save native subsistence fishing and hunting grounds from being cleared for development. I’ve worked as a private sector attorney for developers, manufacturers and lenders, trying to (essentially) develop land and otherwise raise revenue efficiently, while minimizing their environmental liabilities. I’ve worked as General Counsel for a large and diverse state agency, trying to implement environmental laws and make them fit bureaucratically with public health systems and production-oriented natural resource agencies. I’ve worked as a board member for nonprofits, trying to overcome the dismal logic of collective action. And I’ve been on the SOG faculty, with its unique focus on local government and engaged scholarship, trying to help state government and local communities understand and benefit from environmental law, instead of being smothered by it.

I don’t claim that my diverse experience keeps me from having a particular personal viewpoint on environmental problems. I do claim, though, that I have empathy for the various points of view that people always bring to these problems. I’m a fallabilist when it comes to my own views. And yours.  I have tried hard through the years to gather what knowledge I can–both scientific knowledge and practical political knowledge–about environmental problems. I’ll do my best to share those gleanings here.

PCB warning sign from roadside dumping in piedmont NC

PCB warning sign from roadside dumping in piedmont NC

My further aim is to stimulate discussion and debate on these problems, beyond the pale semblance of debate that usually takes place in modern media. I previously tried to do this through a Water Wiki, from 2007 through 2012.  The wiki technology did not, in the end, really facilitate discussion. In this blog, I will welcome your comments and hope the simplicity of the format and the familiarity with blogging will aid communicative reason, and ultimately help inform real decisions.

Two ways to keep up to date with the blog are through an RSS feed , or by subscribing by email.  An RSS feed automatically sends new posts to an “RSS reader”, and the other sends new posts to your email.

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