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Not all Environmental lawyers are in favor of protecting the environment,

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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-09-06 07:22 AM
Original message
Not all Environmental lawyers are in favor of protecting the environment,
Edited on Mon Oct-09-06 07:23 AM by The Backlash Cometh
are they? Hidden agendas.

A few years back, I learned that we have developer/lawyer/judges who were organizing to weaken laws that hindered private development projects. (The judges were "conflicted" because they or their families owned large tracts of land, or because their law firms were involved with development.) They were going to make changes quietly through the courts. Basically, they were going to start in the local courts and work their way up the appeal process. And, I believe I can come up with at least one instance, were a city used a lower court case to loosen up its own zoning regulations for a favored project.

One of the favorite targets of these pro-property rights activists, are wetlands.

Anyways, I'm always on the lookout for the next potential strategy and I think I found it. There was a person in the community that I knew well, or should I say, was victimized by, and I happen to know that his son works for a prominent Republican law firm. In addition, the son lists himself as an Environmental Lawyer. How can this be, I asked myself? How can this be when less than ten years ago, environmental lawyers were few and far between because there was little money to be made. Their best advocates would be organizations such as the Sierra Club, and the cash poor public. So I asked myself, "Why would the son of a land predator become an environmental lawyer for a prominent Republican law firm that's well known for development?" And that's when it dawned on me, that not all environmental lawyers are in favor of protecting the environment. Maybe they're there just to go through the motions?

Does anybody have evidence to refute that? Is there a hypocratic oath for Environmental Lawyers that I don't know about?
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-09-06 07:38 AM
Response to Original message
1. Vast majority of "environmental lawyers" are anti-environment
Edited on Mon Oct-09-06 07:45 AM by HamdenRice
I've worked with many of them, and the reason is simple -- supply and demand.

Law schools churn out a certain number of young lawyers who specialize in environmental law, usually because they do, in some vague way, desire to improve the environment.

Then they graduate and there is a certain set of job opportunities: (1) environmental advocacy and litigation firms, supported by donations and foundations, that pay very modest salaries; (2) a limited number of environmental law jobs at the federal EPA and state environmental agencies for "regulators"; and (3) a huge number of jobs at environmental law firms, and environmental departments at corporate law firms, that pay extravagant salaries to represent corporations and developers who are attempting to comply with environmental regulations. Some of these corporate environmental lawyers try to do the right thing -- that is, to counsel their clients how to comply with environmental regulations -- but the majority will be pushed to focus on how to circumvent regulations or lobby for exemptions or changes in the laws and regulations. That's just the nature of the field.

So just because someone is an "environmental lawyer" does not mean he is a pro environment lawyer.

BTW, environmental law is not a new field that's only been around 10 years; environmental law as a field is about 35 years old -- ie since the Nixon-era creation of the EPA and its statutory structure. And since the beginning, the majority of environmental lawyers have been employed in corporate compliance, not protecting the environment.

Also, there is revolving door. So when the EPA or state environmental agencies seek top leadership with each new administration, they recruit the "best" environmental laywers -- that is, usually the lawyers who worked in corporate environmental law firms and departments. So over the years, the regulations get weaker and weaker, and more pro development.
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-09-06 07:58 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. "the nature of the field"
Yet one more piece of evidence to prove that the legal community has failed us.

Does anybody else need to be convinced that we need to take self-regulation away from the legal field? And then we need to pay for good civil servants/lawyers? People who will be guaranteed a life-long career and decent salary to protect the public interest? There are actually good people out there who have a passion for the environment. Why not pay them with public money?
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enough Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-09-06 08:03 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. That's exactly what my daughter discovered in law school.
The corporate firms offer huge salaries right out of law school. The disparity is staggering between what a new JD can make by accepting an offer from a firm instead of going into a pro-environment work or even into a governmental agency or clerking. For a young person with a whole lot of education-loan debt, the choice can be harder than you would think. I was proud that she resisted, but I would have understood perfectly if she had taken that route.
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-09-06 08:20 AM
Response to Reply #4
7. Thank her for me.
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Sgent Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-09-06 07:44 AM
Response to Original message
2. Enivironmental Lawyers
work with environmental law -- the speciality area says nothing about which side they represent.

Just as a medical malpractice attorney may work for plantiffs or for the defense.
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Divernan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-09-06 08:09 AM
Response to Original message
5. James Connaughton, head of WH Environmental Office, is prime example.
Google Connaughton's name and you will be shocked and awed at all the damage to the environment in general and individual people in particular that this "environmental lawyer" has caused. Ironically, Connaughton began his career working for asbestos victims working in the construction trades. His work for the white house now causes people to get asbestosis.

He is the ONE INDIVIDUAL MAN who revised Christine Whitman's/EPA's atatement on air quality in lower Manhattan immediately after 9/11, in order to get Wall Street up and running ASAP. His actions resulted in many thousands of emergency workers, firemen, police, residents, workers and school children returning to an area where they were breathing in toxic fumes for AT LEAST A YEAR! I am telling you that most of these people HAVE DEVELOPED OR WILL DEVELOP lung disease and various cancers from this exposure. Asbestos alone takes some 10 or more years to evidence itself once it enters your lungs.
"White House edited EPA's 9/11 reports
WASHINGTON -- At the White House's direction, the Environmental Protection Agency gave New Yorkers misleading assurances that there was no health risk from the debris-laden air after the World Trade Center collapse, according to an internal inquiry. President Bush's senior environmental adviser yesterday defended the White House involvement, saying it was justified by national security.

The White House "convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones" by having the National Security Council control EPA communications after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, according to a report issued late Thursday by EPA Inspector General Nikki Tinsley."When EPA made a Sept. 18 announcement that the air was 'safe' to breathe, the agency did not have sufficient data and analyses to make the statement," the report says, adding that the EPA had yet to adequately monitor air quality for contaminants such as PCBs, soot and dioxin. In all, the EPA issued five news releases within 10 days of the attacks and four more by the end of 2001 reassuring the public about air quality. But it wasn't until June 2002 that the EPA determined that air quality had returned to pre-Sept. 11 levels -- well after respiratory ailments and other problems began to surface in hundreds of workers cleaning dusty offices and apartments.

The day after the attacks, former EPA Deputy Administrator Linda Fisher's chief of staff e-mailed senior EPA officials to say that "all statements to the media should be cleared" first by the National Security Council, which is Bush's main forum for discussing national security and foreign policy matters with his senior aides and Cabinet, the inspector general's report says. Approval from the NSC, the report says, was arranged through the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which "influenced, through the collaboration process, the information that EPA communicated to the public through its early press releases when it convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones."

For example, the inspector general found, the EPA was persuaded to omit guidance for cleaning indoor spaces and tips on potential health effects from airborne dust containing asbestos, lead, glass fibers and concrete. JAMES CONNAUGHTON, chairman of the environmental council, which coordinates federal environmental efforts, said the White House directed the EPA to add and delete information based on how it should be released publicly. He said the EPA did "an incredible job" with the World Trade Center cleanup.
* * * * * *
And I quote Andy Darrell, New York regional director of Environmental Defense, an advocacy group, said the report is indicative of a pattern of White House interference in EPA affairs."For EPA to do its job well, it needs to be allowed to make decisions based on the science and the facts," he said.The EPA inspector general recommended the EPA adopt new procedures so its public statements on health risks and environmental quality are backed by data and analysis.Other recommendations include developing better procedures for indoor air cleanups and asbestos handling in large-scale disasters.

See also, "White House Environmental Chief Launces Stealth Attack on Climate

And his official White House bio:
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-09-06 08:19 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. What a crime. We no longer have public advocates.
All our tax dollars are being used against us.
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