Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions


Source: Business First

Environmentalist working his dream job


Posted: April 8, 2011
Originally Published: April 6, 2011

Brian Smith said growing up in Tonawanda, he had a deep appreciation for nature. And after studying political science in college, his love for the outdoors, combined with his interest training and policy, landed him a job at Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

And with green initiatives practically everywhere you turn these days, he said that “environmentalist” is a title that doesn’t carry the stigma it did years ago.

“Mainstream society sees that protecting the environment is good for the society and the economy,” said Smith, 32.

He is program director for the organization, which works throughout New York and Connecticut to build understanding and advocacy for policies and actions to manage and protect natural resources and public health. Smith has spent much of the first quarter of the year on issues regarding protection and restoration of the Great Lakes.

“It’s an effort that requires a lot of organizing, but it also has taken me to Washington, D.C. to meet with local representatives to urge them to support programs that will protect and restore the lakes,” he said.

He also has been in touch with New York Power Authority regarding their proposed Great Lakes Offshore Wind project. Since the concept for it was announced in 2009, Smith has been involved in the process, he said, to advance renewable energy while making sure the lake would remain protected. He said he’s seeing a lot of wind development opportunities and that there’s great potential to grow solar power initiatives in New York.

“New York State has great potential,” he said. “There’s a misconception that we can’t use solar in New York, but there’s greater potential here than in Germany, the world leader in installed solar.”

Smith knows that no energy can be generated without some impact on the environment and that more new energy sources in New York could mean more jobs. At UB's Center for Tomorrow on April 12, his group will co- host a free conference to explore and discuss issues related to development of Great Lakes wind energy in New York.

The conference, entitled “Great Lakes Wind Energy Development in New York State,” will be held at the Center for Tomorrow at the University at Buffalo North (Amherst) campus from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It will include four panel presentations and discussions featuring speakers from industry, government and various stakeholder groups. Panelists will cover a range of issues pertaining to the proposed project including regulatory, technical, economic and environmental.

For more information or to register, click here or call Pace Energy and Climate Center at (914) 422-4126.