Environmental Law Clinic Fall Semester In Review
Student attorneys in the Environmental Law Clinic had a busy fall semester under the direction of new Clinic Director, Seema Kakade. The Clinic took on several new clients and matters working on issues related to climate change, international environmental law, federal rollback of environmental regulation and the related need for an expanded state involvement in environmental governance. Clinic students wrote legal memoranda for clients on complex areas of constitutional and administrative law and provided legal-counseling to clients on state legislative processes. Clinic students also submitted comments to state regulators on draft water quality permits and worked with technical experts to submit comments on plans to clean up coal ash pollution. Some specific examples of work conducted by Clinic students in the fall semester included:
In October, the Clinic submitted comments on behalf of Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Defenders of Wildlife, Patuxent Riverkeeper, Potomac Riverkeeper Network, and Sierra Club on a draft plan to clean up pollution from a coal ash landfill in Montgomery County, Maryland. The draft plan grew out of a Clinic citizen enforcement suit filed on behalf of these clients that spurred a Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) enforcement action, eventually leading toy a 2013 settlement agreement between MDE and the landfill owner. The Clinic and its clients, along with co-counsel Environmental Integrity Project, have remained engaged throughout the settlement process, ensuring that the clean up plans adequately protect Maryland water quality.
The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) requested the Clinic to assist in drafting model climate change adaptation laws for Kazakhstan. In October, ELI acknowledged four Clinic students Andrew Marien, Emily Bryant, Paige Reinauer, and Suhani Chitalia in a white paper prepared for the Ministry of Energy of Kazakhstan for their research on international climate adaptation laws.
In November, the Clinic submitted comments to MDE on behalf of Blue Water Baltimore calling for changes to a draft wastewater discharge permit for a major treatment plant to ensure that the permit will be consistent with federal and state law.
In December, Clinic students wrote a legal memorandum for the Northeast Coordinated States for Air Use Management (NESCAUM), a non-profit dedicated to helping state air offices in the New England and Mid-Atlantic, on constitutional issues arising from state-state agreements on climate change. NESCAUM used the memorandum to help prepare for a panel presentation at a conference of states and Canadian provinces held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Prof. Seema Kakade