Environmental Law Curriculum


Core Courses

Administrative Law (Three Hours)

A study of the legal constraints on and nature of administrative agencies. Topics include the constitutional limits on Congress’ power to delegate legislative and judicial power to agencies; procedures imposed on agency adjudication and rulemaking by the Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act and other statutes; the scope of judicial review of agency decisions, including the methods by which courts restrict and control agency discretion; and the limitations on the availability of judicial review.

Environmental Law (Four Hours)

An exploration of the theory and policy of environmental protection. Covers all major federal environmental legislation, including NEPA, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, CERCLA and RCRA.

Land-Use Regulation (Three Hours)

A study of land-use regulation and the available legal vehicles for pursuing constitutional, statutory and regulatory claims in the land-use context.

Natural Resources (Three Hours)

A study of how resources such as timber, fish, minerals, forests, water, coastlands, and indigenous plants and animals are handled, regulated, used and distributed.

Property (Four Hours)

An introduction to alternative theories of property rights. Topics include the division of property rights over time (common law estates, landlord-tenant law); concurrent ownership; private land-use controls (easements, covenants); and public land-use controls (eminent domain, zoning).

State and Local Government (Three Hours)

An explanation of the essential legal structure of state and local governments. Topics include state constitutional law; the constitutional and statutory powers of counties and municipalities; legislation; the balance of state law against local government law; the tensions between urban and rural governments; the overall scope of the police powers; and revenue authority. The course also considers special-purpose local government entities such as school districts and development authorities.

Advanced Courses and Seminars 

Climate Change and the Law (Two Hours)

This seminar style course will explore the legal developments regarding climate change issues. The course will begin with background on climate change, discuss early international agreements and move onto recent case developments, current options for regulating greenhouse gases, current litigation regarding climate change and future trend.

Energy Law (Two Hours)

The course examines state, federal and international regulation of energy markets and the development, production and distribution of energy. The course will emphasize the interrelation of energy policy with other legal and economic policy areas.

Environmental Advocacy Workshop (Two Hours)

The Environmental Advocacy Workshop includes reading assignments, written exercises, discussions and simulations with an emphasis on client representation. The course develops student’s abilities to function as successful environmental advocates in the context of client interviews, administrative proceedings, negotiations and litigation. Other issues covered include environmental justice and advocating environmental protection through the legislative process.

Federalism and Devolution (Three Hours)

An exploration of law, politics, and scholarly literature that focuses on the intersection of the federalism doctrine and the “devolution revolution.” Seminar emphasis varies in relation to recent political events and student interest.

International Environmental Law (Three Hours)

Law of International Common Spaces (Two Hours)

An examination of the international community’s management of common resources, including the law of the sea, of airspace and outer space, of polar regions and of the global environment.

Regulatory Reform (Three Hours)

An exploration of the ongoing debate over regulatory reform, using administrative and statutory materials, as well as scholarly readings from law journals and material from other disciplines.

Transactional Environmental Law (Two Hours)

A study of the range of environmental issues that typically arise in different types of business transactions. Types of transactions studied include stock purchases, assets purchases, leases and pure property transfers. The course concludes with a negotiation exercise based upon real-world transaction.

Water Resources Law and Litigation (Three Hours)

Exploration of themes common in the practice of environmental and natural resources law, focusing on water as a resource, water quality protection and pollution control. Topics include the federal Clean Water Act, public rights and enforcement structures, water allocation, drinking water, preserving coastal waters and wetland protection programs. This course includes practice-oriented exercises and problems.

Enrichment Courses