Why I do what I do...

By Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, WELC Attorney since 2003

It’s pretty simple really: I love this world and all its beautiful people and places. Quite frankly, you’d have to be insane to stand on a wind-swept ridge in the Valle Vidal in northern New Mexico with your wife and dog or float down the Rio Grande with a group of friends laughing and looking down that great geologic rift and not fall in love with this world and the people you share it with.

It’s a logical extension of that love to work as a public interest environmental attorney. Part strategist, part litigator, we’re given a straightforward mission: do good in this world. And that’s a hard job to beat. On the bad days, the institutionalized power and momentum behind interests like the fossil fuel industry make us feel like Don Quixote’s progeny tilting at windmills. But on the good days, we witness our positive change to the world: iconic landscapes protected from destructive threats like irresponsible fossil fuel development, a climate that just might be able to withstand the worst that global warming has to offer, and communities protected from tragic legacies of pollution.

And our work is more exciting and important than ever because we’re facing some game-changing threats, like global warming. But these threats also present us with opportunities to instill in our laws a deeper respect for the world and each other. We can shift to clean energy like wind and solar, and we can live in communities that are functioning elements of a connected, resilient landscape of farms, rivers, deserts, and forests. This is the world that I want to see in my lifetime, a world that I’ll feel proud to leave to my son, who I’ll be welcoming into this world with my wife, Rachel, in July. Because I want my son to stand on some wind-swept ridge or float down some river in his lifetime just like I have and to know that it’s a little bit better off because of his parents.