(EnviroNews Utah) – Salt Lake City – In response to the Utah Attorney General’s Office awarding the “Attorney of the Year” trophy to Christian Stephens, the lawyer at the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) who has been fighting to suppress the lawsuits against the Kennecott and Tesoro pollution expansion permits, Dr. Brian Moench of the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) announced the winner of the “People’s Attorney of the Year.”
Attorney Joro Walker received the honor at the Clean Air, No Excuses Rally on Jan. 25, 2014, for her efforts to stop the “illegal” and unhealthy expansion of industry in the face of possible EPA sanctions.
The rally, organized by UPHE, Utah Moms for Clean Air, HEAL Utah, the Sierra Club, and the Facebook groups Utah Clean Air Now, Communities for Clean Air, and Utah CleanAir, by the time it was over, turned out to be the largest environmental protest in Utah State history, and possibly the largest air-pollution-specific protest in US history, according to what EnviroNews Utah could locate in written record.
“She is truly David taking on Goliath,” says Moench, who calls Walker the most “important person in the state when it comes to clean air”.
As the chief attorney fighting against the Kennecott and Tesoro expansions, Walker has been criticized for her actions, which some have criticized as destructive to the future of children.
“It is the health of those children that is at risk,” says Walker. “We cannot condemn our children, our families, or our community to six more years of deadly pollution.”
It sounds like Walker will continue to use the law to fight suspect permits that allow industrial expansions and increased pollution, in an effort to protect those who cannot protect themselves against the profit-driven machinations of big business and the government officials who pander to them.
“This is our air. This is our government. These are our laws,” exclaimed Walker to a crowd that seamed equally eager to end pollution permit shenanigans once and for all.