RJ Smith (1937-2024)


Freedom has lost a true champion with the passing of longtime CEI analyst RJ Smith. RJ’s tireless advocacy for private property rights will be especially missed.

RJ coined the term “free-market environmentalism” and spent decades developing and advancing its principles. Among his list of accomplishments, he founded the Center for Private Conservation, which highlighted the many successful examples of environmental stewardship undertaken by private property owners and contrasted these success stories with the mismanagement so often seen on federally-controlled lands. 

Few fought harder against the harm inflicted on small property owners by intrusive federal statutes like the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act. As a result, dozens upon dozens of such property owners considered RJ a trusted friend and ally. He was a welcome and frequent guest at farms, ranches, and wineries (his favorite) across the US and abroad, and whose owners now mourn his passing.

While RJ enjoyed living in Washington DC, he never lost sight of the damage done to our freedoms by officials in Washington, and he never let up in the fight for reform. The policy battles remain to be won, and RJ Smith’s vision and lifetime of work will help his many friends and colleagues continue the fight.