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Environmental Law Courses

Environmental and Natural Resource Law

  • Advanced Regulatory Law and Policy - The Advanced Regulatory Law and Policy seminar provides a unique educational opportunity for anyone interested in contemporary developments in regulatory law and policy across a variety of issue areas. Throughout the term, seminar participants follow regulatory developments in real time as well as encounter some of the most up-to-date research on regulatory issues. The primary work of the seminar centers around the production of RegBlog, a daily online source of writing about regulatory news, analysis, and opinion. The format of weekly seminars varies, ranging from early lectures on the regulatory process to in-depth discussions of contemporary regulatory issues, and from critique of peer writing samples to analysis of current research articles. Enrollment in the Advanced Regulatory Law and Policy seminar is subject to permission of the instructor. Participants in Advanced Regulatory Law and Policy meet at the same time and location as participants in the Regulatory Law and Policy Seminar. The advanced seminar participants will take a leadership role in producing RegBlog, both preparing their own writing assignments, providing oral presentations about regulatory or writing issues, and conducting a peer editing process overseen by Professor Coglianese. This seminar meets weekly throughout the year, and students in the advanced seminar are expected to enroll in both terms. Starting in 2013-2014, prior enrollment in one or more terms of the Regulatory Law and Policy seminar will be a prerequisite for enrollment in the advanced seminar.
  • Animal Law and Ethics - This seminar course will focus both on fundamental legal and ethical questions, including human duties toward animals and whether conceiving of rights for animals is appropriate, as well as on an understanding of the current legal and administrative rules regulating the relationship between humans and animals. All viewpoints are welcome. We will discuss the varying viewpoints expressed by animal advocates, generally falling into the category of either "animal welfare" or "animal rights" positions. We will discuss the fact that nonhuman animals are considered property under the law and currently have no legal rights, per se, and only limited legal "protections." Discussion of animal rights will necessarily entail an examination of the sources and characteristics of fundamental rights, why animals have historically been denied them, and whether legal rights are appropriately limited to humans. Further, we will discuss whether, if any such rights were recognized, what nonhuman animals should be entitled to them and, if so, to which legal rights they should be entitled. The class will also consider such issues as establishing standing to bring suits on behalf of animals, constitutional issues raised in animal protection cases and an analysis of the law and policy behind the protections afforded (or not afforded) animals under various federal and state laws. We will examine the content and enforcement of state anticruelty laws, the Endangered Species Act, the Federal Animal Welfare Act and accompanying regulations. The seminar will also include environmental issues as they relate to animals including habitat protection, invasive species conflicts and the environmental effects of food animal production. We will have guest speakers for several sessions. In the past, these speakers have included including litigators and legislative advocates from the Humane Society of the United States and public interest law firms, a prosecutor who specializes in animal fighting, and leading legal scholars on animal ethics. Two papers will be submitted in lieu of a final exam. There may also be a group project or presentation to make things more interesting. As this course is intended, in part, as an opportunity to engage in an open dialogue on the potential for developments in this nascent area of law, attendance and participation in class discussion is crucial and laptops are not permitted.
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: Law, Policy and Practice - Federal and state governments, and the U.S. public, are increasingly turning to cost-benefit analysis and risk assessment to guide rulemaking decisions and to set priorities among interventions intended to protect health, safety, environmental quality, homeland security, financial assets, etc. This course prepares students to critically evaluate risk and cost-benefit analyses, in order to help make decisions that are responsive to law, science, economics, and public values. Students will analyze recent and pending decisions by EPA, FDA, OSHA, and other agencies, to explore how analysis has informed or obscured important controversies, and how the courts have shaped both analysis and outcome. We will also discuss the art of crafting cost-effective controls, considering both traditional rulemaking and innovative proposals for new policy instruments. Required readings will include a mix of journal articles about methods of analysis and regulatory policy, along with close analysis of several major court decisions. The course instructor is an environmental health scientist, but the course will not require any particular science or math background. Rather, lectures and class discussion will emphasize insights the instructor gleaned during 10 years as the chief rulemaking official at OSHA and member of numerous EPA advisory committees, including many details of regulatory analyses, court decisions, and enforcement actions that are poorly captured in the public record.
  • Energy Law and Climate Change - This course provides an introduction to U.S. energy law and examines policy initiatives to address the challenges of climate change, focusing on electric generation. The course begins with study of the legal framework of regulation of the U.S. electric utility industry and the evolving power and responsibilities of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, state public utility commissions, and other administrative agencies. The course then examines the emergence of climate change as an energy policy issue in this regulatory context and analyzes key federal and state initiatives (and alternatives) designed to achieve a reduction in carbon emissions, including expanded use of renewable energy, nuclear energy, energy efficiency, “smart grids,” and distributed generation. Class is limited to 16 students. Grading will be based on a seminar paper and class participation.
  • Environmental Law - This course focuses on both the substance and process of environmental law in the United States. The goal is for students to become familiar with the basic structure of federal environmental law and regulation, both to prepare for legal counseling and advocacy as well as to be able to engage in policy evaluation and design of environmental law. The course will cover key federal environmental statutes, such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Superfund, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, as well as selected EPA regulations. The course will focus on the major legal and policy issues underlying environmental statutes, as well as on legal methods of statutory interpretation. Classroom attendance and preparation is expected. There will be an in-class exam. This is a 1L elective course and 1Ls will receive priority in enrollment.
  • Environmental Lawyering - Environmental law has moved to the forefront both nationally and internationally. This course offers a unique opportunity to learn substantive environmental law and practical lawyering that cuts across most areas of legal practices (real estate, corporate, administrative and litigation). Using “real world” case studies and simulations throughout the semester, students will be asked to role-play as environmental attorneys in, among other things, (1) acquiring, financing and selling an ongoing business with potential environmental concerns; (2) negotiating with the federal EPA regarding a client’s non-compliance with environmental laws; (3) litigating a toxic tort matter; (4) pursuing and defending a citizens’ environmental suit; and (5) wrestling with ethical issues relating to the above presentations. Guests include an EPA official, an environmental consultant and a state or federal judge. The course is for students interested in learning environmental law and/or in just learning lawyering skills.
  • Externship: Delaware Riverkeeper - PLEASE SEE IMPORTANT ENROLLMENT PROCEDURES FOR EXTERNSHIPS AVAILABLE ON THE REGISTRATION INSTRUCTIONS PAGE. Established in 1988, Delaware Riverkeeper Network (“DRN”) is the only advocacy organization working throughout the entire Delaware River Watershed. The Delaware Riverkeeper is an individual who is the voice of the River, championing the rights of the River and its streams as members of our community. The Delaware Riverkeeper is assisted by seasoned professionals and a network of members, volunteers and supporters. Together they form DRN, and together they stand as vigilant protectors and defenders of the River, its tributaries and watershed. DRN is committed to restoring the watershed's natural balance where it has been lost and ensuring its preservation where it still exists. DRN has an active legal clinic that uses environmental laws to enforce legal protections of our waterways and educate law students interested in environmental and public interest law. DRN maintains a docket of robust citizen enforcement actions and other unique environmental cases. DRN has an active legal clinic that uses environmental laws to enforce legal protections of our waterways and educate law students interested in environmental and public interest law. DRN maintains a docket of robust citizen enforcement actions and other unique environmental cases. DRN’s staff attorney is the primary litigator for the organization. DRN has been involved in matters in federal and state court in the watershed states of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Recent cases have addressed sewage permits, floodplain development and wetlands violations. The extern will take an active role in all aspects of the daily litigation practice at DRN, including case development, research and drafting, court appearances, depositions and discovery, meetings and coordination with other attorneys and advocates. Working with DRN at this level provides the extern with a unique opportunity to develop critical litigation skills in a nonprofit setting. Although some research work may be done elsewhere, the extern should expect to be on site at least 1-2 times during the week to participate in meetings, conferences, etc. (DRN’s office is located in Bristol, PA, approximately ½ mile from the Bristol train station [SEPTA R7]. Whether you drive or take the train, please consult a map to ensure that your timing and transportation needs can be met. Please note that no remibursement is provided for transportation costs.) You may not enroll in this externship if you are enrolled in another clinic or externship in the same semester, or are responsible for 3 or more incomplete grades at the beginning of the semester. The add/drop period for this externship ends at 4:00 PM on the first Friday after the start of classes. Students who elect to use their enrollment in this externship toward their public service requirement will receive one less credit for this course.
  • International Environmental Law - The course will focus on the development of international law, institutions, and regimes that respond to international environmental problems. Topics will include transboundary air pollution, ozone depletion, climate change, whaling, and fisheries conservation. The course will begin with introductions to economic and ethical issues in environmental law, to the sources of public international law, and to the problem of making that law effective. The course will also examine how international trade law and institutions, including the World Trade Organization, affect efforts to protect the environment.
  • Regulatory Law and Policy - This seminar provides a unique educational opportunity for anyone interested in contemporary developments in regulatory law and policy across a variety of issue areas. Throughout the term, seminar participants follow regulatory developments in real time as well as encounter some of the most up-to-date research on regulatory issues. The primary work of the seminar centers around the production of RegBlog, a daily on-line source of writing about regulatory news, analysis, and opinion. The format of weekly seminars varies, ranging from early lectures on the regulatory process to in-depth discussions of contemporary regulatory issues, and from critique of peer writing samples to analysis of current research articles. Seminar participants complete short weekly writing assignments which may be selected for posting on RegBlog through a peer editing process overseen by Professor Coglianese. Participants have the opportunity to focus their work on the regulatory law and policy issues that interest them the most. This seminar meets weekly throughout the year, and students may enroll for the Fall Term, Spring Term, or both terms. The seminar is open to students from outside the law school by permission. Starting in 2013-2014, prior enrollment in one or more terms of the Regulatory Law and Policy seminar will be considered a prerequisite for enrollment in the Advanced Regulatory Law and Policy seminar.
  • Risk Regulation - Society faces a range of risks, from both natural sources and economic activities. A core challenge for society’s major institutions – governments, businesses, non-profits – is to understand these risks and learn to manage them effectively and efficiently. This seminar will focus on how society deals with risks, ranging from, on the one end of the spectrum, voluntary action by business to, on the other end, strict rules imposed by government on the private sector – with many variants in between. These risk management responses also include the design of institutions to identify, monitor, and provide information about risks. Understanding what makes for effective institutional responses to risk is especially challenging, for it calls for not just an understanding of institutions themselves -- e.g., law and business -- but also an understanding of how these institutions interact with and affect the risks they are supposed to reduce or mitigate. This seminar will meet on alternating Tuesday afternoons throughout the entire 2010-2011 academic year. One seminar meeting each month will feature a guest speaker presenting new scholarship or policy analysis related to risk regulation. The other sessions will provide general background on risk regulation, further consideration of the specific topics covered by the guest speakers, and discussion of research papers seminar participants will be expected to complete by the end of the spring term.