Spencer has filed complaints, comments, and briefs identifying environmental issues with the Mountain Valley Pipeline, Byhalia Pipeline, Nationwide Permit 12, and Keystone XL Pipeline. He also helps protect water quality by working with local partners to identify pollution concerns, filing comments on federal water-pollution permits, advocating for the protection of trout waters, and using legal tools to increase beneficial flows in dammed rivers and streams.
Spencer also files comments, objections, and briefs on Forest Service projects and land management plans in North Carolina and Virginia. Based in Asheville, he has jumped into the North Carolina constitutional amendments case brought by SELC and the state NAACP. Spencer also works on public-records related litigation.
“I’m most proud of my work on the Byhalia oil pipeline, which was slated to plow through a historic Black community in Memphis that was already suffering from disproportionate pollution loads,” Spencer said. “Developers chose this route because it was—their words—the ‘point of least resistance.’ However, grassroots organization and a heavy dose of SELC-led litigation protected the residents of the Boxtown neighborhood and the irreplaceable Memphis Sand Aquifer from possible contamination.”
Spencer’s motivation to work for SELC comes from a strong sense of identity as a Southerner. “No one is doing more to protect the water, air, and climate of the South than SELC,” he said. “The nation’s environmental issues are intersecting in the Southeast: oil and gas development, environmental injustice, water pollution, climate change, species loss, urban sprawl, deforestation—you name it, we are dealing with it, and SELC is pioneering solutions for it.”
Spencer enjoys the Balsam Mountains of western North Carolina, and climbing the famous “eyebrow” features at Looking Glass Rock. He loves trekking the 30-mile Art Loeb Trail, and fly fishing in the steep, rugged rivers and creeks draining the Balsams’ craggy peaks. “The Balsams—and Western North Carolina—truly have it all,” Spencer said.
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, clerk
- J.D., Duke University School of Law, magna cum laude; Duke Law Journal, executive editor
- B.S. with highest honors, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
- With SELC since 2020