Dec 1, 2006

Southern Environmental Law Center Honors Steve O’Day

ATLANTA (December 1, 2006) — Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP (SGR) and The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) is pleased to announce that Steve O’Day, a leading environmental lawyer for more than 27 years, was honored with the 2006 James S. Dockery, Jr. Southern Environmental Leadership Award during its annual board meeting on November 10. This prestigious recognition is given to an individual who exemplifies exceptional commitment to the environment, helping to conserve natural resources and promote public awareness in the South.

Mr. O’Day is a partner with SGR, and is head of the firm’s Environmental Law Practice. In addition to serving on SELC’s Board of Trustees and as senior litigation counsel for the organization, he is a trustee of the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, and past trustee of The Georgia Conservancy. Mr. O’Day has also served on the Georgia Quality Growth Partnership, an advisory committee to the Georgia Hazardous Waste Management Authority, an advisory committee to Georgia’s Rivercare 2000, as Chairman of the Environmental Advisory Committee for Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor from 1990-1998, and is a member of Leadership Atlanta. He also is a part-time instructor at Georgia Tech.

{photo-right} “I am extremely honored to receive this award in honor of Jim Dockery, one of the South’s premier environmental stewards, from an organization of the caliber of SELC,” said Mr. O’Day. “I am pleased to be recognized for past contributions; and the award causes me to rededicate myself to the cause of protecting our precious natural resources not only for our own use, but for our children and generations to come.”

SELC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan environmental advocacy organization that is celebrating its 20th anniversary this fall. For two decades, SELC has informed, implemented and enforced law and policy to protect the Southeast’s environment and health.

“We are delighted to honor Steve O’Day with this award,” says Rick Middleton, SELC’s Founder and Executive Director. “His work and perseverance have helped protect some of the South’s most precious resources. Southerners are fortunate to have such a dedicated friend working to ensure that our natural heritage will be passed down to our future generations.”

SELC addresses the most pressing issues that impact the South’s air and water, mountains, forests, coast, rural lands and special places across six states: Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Over the last two decades, SELC has worked in collaboration with more than 100 local, state and national partner groups and handled about 500 projects and cases with significant success.

The Southern Environmental Leadership Award was created in honor of SELC’s co-founder and former board chair, Jim Dockery. Until his death in 1994, Mr. Dockery’s noted environmental leadership helped protect tens of millions of acres of mountain wilderness around the nation. His contributions to the southeast region are remembered annually by this leadership award.

The 2005 award recipient was Wendy Allen Jackson, Executive Director of the Black Warrior-Cahaba Rivers Land Trust.

While serving as the chairman of Smith, Gambrell & Russell’s environmental law practice, and with the blessing of the firm, Mr. O’Day has been heavily involved in legal work for leading environmental groups throughout his career. His work has included litigation to force the establishment in Georgia of some of the strongest protections in the country against the runoff of polluted stormwater from constructions sites; precedent-setting lawsuits preventing degradation of high quality waters like Lake Lanier, and precedent-setting lawsuits enforcing requirements for environmentally sound waste management planning and waste disposal. Working with SELC, Mr. O’Day recently overturned a permit for a massive housing and marina development just 3 miles from one of Georgia’s crown jewels, the Cumberland Island National Seashore, because of the potential impacts on rare species such as right whales and manatees that use the waters near the proposed development. Mr. O’Day’s past work with SELC has included enforcement of legal protections against unsound development of small islands in Georgia’s coastal marshlands called marsh hammocks; fights against billboard proliferation along the South’s roads; and protection of Cumberland Island against erosion and other impacts from a proposed re-routing of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Mr. O’Day studied Civil Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and earned a B.A. degree, summa cum laude, in political science from Furman University in 1976. He received his J.D. degree, cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1979, where he served as Chairman of the Harvard Environmental Law Society.

Mr. O’Day has been named as a “Georgia Super Lawyer” in environmental law since the inception of that list, by Atlanta Magazine and Law & Politics Media, Inc. He has also been named by Chambers USA as one of “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business” in environmental law, again since the inception of that publication, and as a Best Environmental Lawyer in Corporate Counsel magazine.

Additionally, Mr. O’Day is very active in the state of Georgia, having served as Chairman of the Environmental Advisory Council for Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor for eight years, and on an advisory committee to the Georgia Pollution Prevention Assistance Division and the Governor’s Rivercare 2000 Task Force. He served on the State of Georgia’s Solid Waste Planning Task Force and on the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce’s Water Quality Task Force and as Chairman of the Solid Waste Task Force. He led the Environmental Collaborative of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s award-winning Vision 2020 long term planning effort.

Mr. O’Day has served as Vice Chairman of the Environmental Law Section of the Georgia Bar, and is active in the Litigation, Environment, Energy and Resources, and Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Sections of the American Bar Association.

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