Pulitzer-winning environmental writer Robert Semple retiring

Source: Nick Sobczyk, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, December 21, 2017

Robert Semple Jr., a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer who led a crusade against mining near Yellowstone National Park in the 1990s, will retire after more than 50 years at The New York Times.

For nearly three decades, Semple has been an editor and writer for the paper’s editorial page, where he has consistently taken on the biggest environment and energy policy issues of the day.

“Bob is probably the single most influential U.S. journalist on energy, the environment and climate change issues in the last 30 years,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former White House climate adviser under President Clinton. “His advocacy on major land conservation, air quality and climate protection issues in particular has been hugely effective.”

Semple took home a Pulitzer in 1996 for a series of editorials on environmental laws and public lands policy in the West, with a focus on a proposed gold mine that would have been built 3 miles outside the boundaries of Yellowstone.

More recently, he has penned pieces on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s views on climate change, as well as the Obama administration’s methane emissions rules and national monument designations.

In an email to about 40 friends and colleagues last night, Semple said he plans to keep writing part-time, even after he formally retires at the end of this year.

Semple started at the Washington bureau of the Times in 1963, covering civil rights under President Lyndon Johnson and later serving at a White House correspondent during the Nixon administration.

He went on to take a few different editing positions at the Times, including a tenure as London bureau chief from 1975 to 1977.

He became associate editor of the editorial page in 1988, a role he has served in ever since.

“I wish also to thank all who have uncomplainingly answered my calls and helped me navigate the complexities and challenges of environmental and energy policy,” Semple wrote yesterday in the email.