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The Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic offers students an opportunity to do real-life and real-time legal and policy work. Clinic offerings include local, national and international projects covering the spectrum of environmental issues. Depending on the project, students may undertake litigation and advocacy work by drafting briefs, preparing testimony, conducting research, developing strategy, and reviewing proposed legislation.
Some students work off-campus with government agencies and nonprofit organizations, while others work on-campus on cutting-edge projects and case work under the supervision of Clinical Professor Wendy Jacobs and Clinical Instructor Shaun Goho.
For the 2012-13 academic year, the Clinic’s projects include:
- Assessing regulatory reliance on private standards to manage offshore drilling in the Arctic: In a collaborative project with the Vermont Law School Institute for Energy and the Environment, the Clinic is examining whether, and if so how, the regulation of offshore drilling in the Arctic should incorporate private standards such as industry best management practices.
- Municipal climate change adaptation: Representing the City of Boston, the Clinic students is investigating the City’s authority to take action and adopt measures to address climate change adaptation at the municipal level. This is an ongoing, multidisciplinary project in the Clinic.
- Offshore aquaculture: In another ongoing Clinic project, the Clinic is collaborating with the Environmental Law Institute and the Ocean Foundation to publish a series of policy papers on the regulation of aquaculture that draws on the lessons learned from the subsidies supplied to industrial agriculture. The papers will be circulated to legislators, regulatory agencies, and environmental organizations.
- Hydraulic fracturing: The Clinic has worked on several issues related to hydraulic fracturing, including drafting a guide for landowners who are approached by a gas developer about signing a lease, investigating the authority of municipalities to regulate hydraulic fracturing directly or indirectly through regulations that apply to any industrial enterprise in the community, and commenting on proposed regulations that allow the use of well brine for dust suppression on roads. This year, the Clinic will be preparing a revised version of its leasing guide.
- Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act amicus briefs: The Clinic has filed amicus briefs in two significant environmental cases this year. In the first, Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center, the Supreme Court is deciding whether channeled stormwater runoff from industrial logging operations is subject to the permitting requirements of the Clean Water Act. The Clinic’s brief was filed on behalf of a professor of forest road engineering, and described the ways in which the construction, operation, and maintenance of logging roads and associated drainage structures are integral parts of an industrial activity—namely, mechanized forestry. In the second, the D.C. Circuit is reviewing challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s landmark regulations governing emissions of hazardous air pollutants from coal-fired power plants. The Clinic, on behalf of a group of law professors including Professors Freeman and Lazarus, argued that EPA’s regulatory approach was justified by the history and text of the Clean Air Act.
- Solar photovoltaic litigation: The Clinic represents small renewable energy companies in litigation related to a new interpretation of the electrical licensing laws adopted by the Massachusetts Board of State Examiners of Electricians. The Board claims that all aspects of a solar photovoltaic (PV) installation must be performed only by licensed electricians. The Clinic is defending the ability of small businesses to continue performing the financial, planning, and other non-electrical parts of PV projects.
For registration information, see the 2013-2014 clinical curriculum.
Wendy Jacobs (Clinical Director, Clinical Professor of Law)
Shaun Goho (Clinical Instructor)
Jacqueline Calahong (Staff Assistant)
Harvard Law School
6 Everett Street, 4th Floor, Suite 4119
Cambridge, MA 02138
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Wendy Jacobs, Clinical Professor