Say Joel Reynolds; think music, family and the environment. It was his family, especially his generous mother, who taught him a sense of service but it was Bobby Kennedy who most influenced his political beliefs. “He conveyed values and a sense of purpose with a charisma that reached across barriers. I admired him and planned to work for his election when I returned from our family’s sabbatical year in Copenhagen.” Landing at LAX, Joel learned of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. It was 1968. Joel was in high school. He still knew what he believed but he no longer knew what he was going to do.College was at UC Riverside where his father was a founding member of the Music Department. Joel majored in music and political science. It was when he interned at EPA that he decided to become a lawyer. “I wanted to be able to pursue my own ideological agenda and the practice of law would enable me to act on the issues I cared about.”After graduation from Columbia Law School he soon focused on environmental law and his work at the Center for Law in the Public Interest and the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant case. In 1989 he joined the National Resources Defense Counsel (NRDC). He is currently Director of its Southern California program and one of eleven lawyers working at the Robert Redford NRDC Headquarters Building in Santa Monica. He didn’t win the victory he wanted in the Diablo Canyon case but when NRDC joined the international campaign, started by the Mexican poet Homero Aridjis, to defend the breeding ground of the California Gray Whale at Laguna San Ignacio in Baja California, it was an all out win. At NRDC he sued the US Navy to block a five-year underwater explosives program near the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Joel successfully argued that the “Navy could test and train in an environmentally responsible way that would both protect our national security and the environment.” He also won when he sued the Los Angeles County Sanitation Department. In a case that marked the beginning of an ongoing series of legal and political battles to clean and protect Southern California coastal waters, County Sanitation was required to meet secondary treatment standards before discharging to the ocean. The Cornfield and Taylor Yards, located between downtown and East Los Angeles, are part of US Government land grants given to Union Pacific to support the development of the railroad and were recently proposed for industrial development. The proposed development would have further divided Los Angeles and caused environmental harm. NRDC sued the City of Los Angeles and the Yards are now 72 acres of dedicated parkland.Continuing the land conservation strategy, NRDC and other environmental groups negotiated the largest conservation agreement in California with the Tejon Ranch Partnership. Its importance comes not only from its scale but from the fact that four major ecosystems, the southern Sierras, the Coastal Range, San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert, come together in Tejon Ranch.“Having a child often opens up your creativity,” is how Joel introduces the songs he wrote for his children, Sam, Ellie and Amelia. He and his five siblings and all eleven of the cousins get together often and making music is a continuing family tradition. But he fears for the future. “Scientists disagree about how much time remains to prevent an irreversible shift in our global climate. We have no time to lose and we know where to begin.”“From the mundane to the grand, act as if the environment matters. From choosing a job, to raising your children, to joining an environmental group, to buying a fuel efficient car, to voting for candidates who take the environment seriously, act as if the environment matters.”
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