We Can Be podcast - The Heinz Endowments

As environmental stakes rise, Emily Collins helps the underserved get a fair shake S02EP06

May 1, 2019

Groundwater poisoned from fracking, toxic coal sludge, and industrial pollution can sicken those who live near the source, and ruin land for generations to come. Often those most acutely affected are also those with the least resources to fight for environmental justice.


So, Emily Collins did something about it, founding Fair Shake, the nation’s first nonprofit law firm devoted to providing environmental legal services regardless of the client’s ability to pay.


Hear about Emily's journey from the woods of her family’s Ohio homestead to the courtroom where she and the Fair Shake team work with individuals, community groups, nonprofit organizations and farmers to give them a fighting chance in their environmental battles.


And those battles have increasingly higher stakes, too. “I used to work on cases about impacts to one waterway,” Emily says. “Now, I find myself writing sentences like ‘the project will disturb 246 acres, resulting in impacts to 14 wetlands, one pond and 67 streams.’”


Emily shares the very first environmental “citation” she gave – she was in elementary school – and explains why she and her Fair Shake team have run and cycled thousands of miles on the land of those for whom they advocate.


“The environmental fights many are facing are not just David versus Goliath, but more like David versus two Goliaths,” Emily says.


Hear how Emily is helping even those astronomical odds in this episode of “We Can Be.”


“We Can Be” is hosted by Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments and Treehouse Media. Theme music by Josh Slifkin, with incidental music by Giuseppe Capolupo. Guest image by Josh Franzos. Audio clips at marks 23:51 and 25:29 feature the voice of environmentalist and “Silent Spring” author Rachel Carson. For guest consideration, contact Scott Roller at sroller@heinz.org