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Environmental Protection Clinic

The Environmental Protection Clinic is an interdisciplinary clinic that addresses environmental law and policy problems on behalf of client organizations such as environmental groups, government agencies, and international bodies. The clinic has a special focus on advocacy to promote solutions to global warming, but also engages in advocacy on other complex and significant environmental issues.

It offers 3 credits to students who engage with actual environmental law or policy problems on behalf of client organizations (environmental groups, government agencies, international bodies, etc.). The class meets weekly and students work eight to ten hours per week in interdisciplinary groups (with students from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and other departments or schools at Yale) on projects with a specific legal or policy product to be produced by the end of the term. Visit the clinic's web site for more detailed information.

Environmental Protection Clinic Activities
The Environmental Protection Clinic is designed to introduce students to several major environmental policy questions and a variety of methods of advocating for environmental improvement. Students work in small teams for a single client organization, such as a local, national or international environmental organization, a community group, or a local, state, or national governmental entity. Students work on a specific project for the term that involves environmental law and policy issues, and that may include assisting with legal research and litigation, drafting legislation or regulations, developing policy proposals and participating in international negotiations on global warming issues.

Recent clinic projects include the following:

• For a Pennsylvania environmental group concerned about the environmental impacts of development of the Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits, clinic students reviewed current and proposed regulatory frameworks in other states, and made recommendations for Pennsylvania to improve and strengthen environmental regulation of Marcellus Shale development. Students also helped organize and participated in a conference on this topic.
• For a national environmental advocacy organization, clinic students worked on legal research and advocacy for ongoing administrative hearings in two midwestern states challenging air and water permits for proposed new conventional coal power plants.
• For a new organization dedicated to assisting Pacific Island nation states with international global warming negotiations, clinic students participated in the Copenhagen climate negotiations in December 2009, and the technical follow-up sessions in Bonn in June 2010, engaging in research to support the island nations in advocating for effective international global warming policies.
• For a federal agency, students reviewed the types of scientific, public health, and environmental data found in environmental impact reviews conducted under federal law and recommended ways to make this information more readily publicly accessible.
• For a national advocacy organization working with federal agencies in the United States and India, students researched aspects of U.S. environmental law, including government and citizen enforcement provisions, for India to consider as it contemplates creating legislation to build a new environmental agency.
• For an environmental advocacy organization in Costa Rica, clinic students researched policy recommendations in the area of agriculture and transportation that would assist Costa Rica in meeting its national goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2020.
• For an environmental and peace organization located in the Middle East, students studied transboundary international water commissions across the world to identify a model that might assist in creating such a commission to protect the Jordan River.