Senior Associate Attorney
In 2021, Chelsea was integral to a legal team that defeated the Byhalia pipeline, a proposed 49-mile crude oil pipeline that would have cut through several southwest Memphis neighborhoods. She credits SELC’s place-based model for allowing attorneys and partners to develop innovative advocacy strategies, which “creates a deeper focus on state and local law, and also helps create stronger partnerships,” she says.
On the Byhalia project, Chelsea and SELC worked with partners such as Memphis Community Against Pollution, Protect Our Aquifer, and the Sierra Club Tennessee Chapter. “Everyone was really dedicated and energetic,” she says. “We used a variety of strategies in that matter—a state law eminent domain case, local legislative advocacy, federal litigation around Clean Water Act permitting, a Title VI administrative complaint and media campaigns. It felt exciting.”
Everyone was very dedicated and energetic. We used a variety of strategies and…it felt exciting.Chelsea Bowling
Pushing for clean energy and opposing the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure are examples of Chelsea’s work related to climate change. Her environmental justice work often relates to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in any program or activity that receives federal funding. She also advocates for better protection of Tennessee’s waters and wildlife from harms caused by polluting industries and expanding urban development.
Chelsea is originally from Blanchester, a town in rural southwestern Ohio. A favorite spot in the southeast is the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “It’s a beautiful place, particularly in late summer, when the mushrooms are going wild,” she says.
- J.D., Yale Law School
- B.A., Kenyon College, summa cum laude
- With SELC since 2019