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Best Local Hero

Wes Woolf

Attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center


It's one thing to recycle, donate money to environmental causes and bitch about Atlanta's smog. It's quite another to buck Gov. Roy Barnes and the state's business and political establishment during a high stakes court battle. That's all in a day's work for Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Wesley Woolf. For years, the Macon native has argued on behalf of environmental groups like the Sierra Club for a transportation plan that would help clean up Atlanta's air instead of make the air dirtier. In June, Woolf and Barnes went head to head before U.S. District Court Judge Beverly Martin. To put it bluntly, Woolf lost that round when Martin gave the Georgia Department of Transportation the go-ahead to begin work on 137 road projects listed in the $36 billion transportation plan. But Woolf -- who has the intelligence, demeanor and wardrobe that could have gotten him a sweet gig as a silk-stocking, big-business lawyer -- carries on in a way that inspires us. He has other lawsuits pending. Victorious or not, his fight against asphalt-crazed bureaucrats is nothing less than a mission to make all Atlantans breathe easier.

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