Environmental law is like a Russian nesting doll: inside the outer body of federal and state statutes is an entire body of federal and state administrative regulations and procedures, and inside that are federal and state guidance documents, cleanup criteria, risk standards, and inter-agency Memoranda of Understanding. Keep opening to see the body of state and federal environmental administrative decisions, and at last is the individual agency representative, armed with powerful discretion. The environmental law practitioner must open up the nesting doll to see all these components in order to effectively handle cases and counsel clients. In this course students will gain an understanding of all these parts, and apply them to issues and fact patterns based on actual cases. Students will review and evaluate administrative orders, permit applications and denials, and other agency action scenarios. Students will visit sites of actual agency action, prepare research memoranda, and evaluate client options. Students will learn how to work with environmental professionals and consultants in order to process and apply technical and scientific standards to a case. The class will culminate in a mock contested case hearing based on an actual dispute, for which the students will develop case theories, practice witness preparation, strategize on the use of exhibits, dispositive motions, conduct direct and cross examinations, make and respond to evidence objections, and prepare written closing arguments including proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. Throughout the semester we will obtain insights from guest speakers from agencies, the legislature, interest groups, and environmental consultants and scientists. Students will also gain an understanding of the changing regulatory landscape by analyzing and discussing current legislative and administrative initiatives at both the state and federal levels, and important case law developments involving agency action, discretion and enforcement.
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