Michael Corley to Lead Environmental Law Project’s Expansion
Michael Corley, a Clinton native and son of Gary and Teresa Corley of Clinton, will head the new upstate office of an environmental law group.
Greenville is the new home to a unique public interest law firm, with the South Carolina Environmental Law Project’s (SCELP) opening of its Upstate office. While SCELP is entering its thirtieth year of operation, this marks the first time that the organization has expanded beyond its home office in Georgetown.
“We have always strived to make ourselves available to the entire state, but we realized that the need and demand for our public interest legal services in the Upstate simply can’t be met without a permanent physical presence,” said director Amy Armstrong. “SCELP has decided to expand to the Upstate, with an office and staff in Greenville, in order to make ourselves more readily available to serve individuals, organizations and partners working to protect this area’s valuable natural resources.”
Corley, who lives in the Upstate, has been hired as Upstate Coordinator and staff attorney. Corley returns to SCELP after working at the Georgetown SCELP office from 2010-2014. During his two-year hiatus, Corley practiced at a law firm in Greenville.
“This is nothing short of a dream realized for me,” said Corley. “I developed a passion for the outdoors growing up in Laurens County, and that passion has shaped me personally and professionally. I couldn’t imagine a more gratifying opportunity than the one I have now to help protect the landscape where this all started for me.”
Corley had already integrated himself into the Upstate environmental community in a personal capacity, through an adjunct role at Furman University and membership on several local environmental boards, but he did not expect to have this opportunity.
“I’m obviously excited from a selfish standpoint, because I get to do a job that I love, but I’m also thrilled for my Upstate community, because an expansion like this has been a long time coming,” Corley said.
Since its inception in 1987, SCELP has participated in virtually every major environmental issue in the state, providing legal advice and representation to groups and individuals opposing environmental harm. “Usually what happens is that a group of citizens or another non-profit identifies an environmental problem.
When public pressure or government intervention fails to remedy the situation, they come to us for legal assistance,” said Armstrong. In recent years, SCELP has been involved in a number of high profile environmental battles, including efforts to protect Charleston County’s Angel Oak tree, to stop construction of a mega-landfill for out-of-state waste in Laurens County, to enforce proper radioactive waste disposal practices, and to shield bears and their habitat from the impacts of a new highway proposed adjacent to a nature preserve.
“While we are often involved in major environmental issues with state-wide implications, we also pride ourselves on being available and responsive to individuals and groups facing purely local threats. When quality of life is threatened as a result of environmental degradation, no issue is ‘too small’ for our involvement,” said Armstrong.
SCELP’s Upstate office can be reached at 864-412-7921.