Executive Director Jeff Gleason’s election response

A note from the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Executive Director Jeff Gleason.

Jeff Gleason, executive director of the Southern Environmental Law Center

What a week. As it comes to a close, the votes are in and the door is closing on the most aggressive anti-environmental administration in our lifetime. Now, after four years of moving backward when we urgently needed to move forward, the Southern Environmental Law Center is ready to seize the opportunity of a new beginning under the Biden administration.

Four years ago, we promised to stand firm against an administration bent on undoing decades of progress, and we’ve kept that promise, holding the line to protect clean air and clean water, and to build a sustainable future, starting in the South. Yet the Trump administration still inflicted considerable damage as it tried to roll back more than 100 environmental and public health regulations, and caused unprecedented destruction at federal agencies through budget cuts and driving out career staff.

Undoing this damage and moving forward to address the critical challenges that lie ahead will take hard work and focus. SELC is ready for this work, but we can’t do it without you. The challenge that lies before us will not be easy, but we are up to the task.

Working closely with a host of dedicated partners over the past four years, we repeatedly met the Trump administration head-on as they attempted to move their anti-environmental agenda forward. Although the Trump administration is coming to an end, the work to clean up their mess is not. Our federal litigation to stop the gutting of fundamental protections will likely continue for several years as we work with the new administration to build new, stronger regulations.

As we look ahead, we are ready to roll up our sleeves for issues that demand what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the fierce urgency of now”:

  • Climate Change. It’s up to us to keep the South moving forward to reduce emissions from the power and transportation sectors and do everything we can to make our communities more resilient. We also have the experience and expertise to help get us back on track with federal solutions that can close the fossil fuel era and promote clean energy alternatives.
  • Clean Air and Clean Water. We need to restore fundamental protections stripped away by the Trump administration and ensure the basic right to clean water and clean air. 
  • Environmental Justice. Historically, communities of color and neighborhoods where residents earn a lower income have carried an unfair burden of environmental pollution. We are going to continue fighting alongside these communities across the South and amplifying their perspectives, experiences, and voices to ensure our environmental laws are applied equally for all.
  • A key to SELC’s continued success is maintaining our strategic vision, flexibility, and know-how to act when the opportunity presents itself. That opportunity has never been greater than now. 

To seize this opportunity and continue this work at this time, we need your partnership today as much as ever. SELC is ready for this work, but we can’t do it without you.  


Jeff Gleason

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