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ENVIRONMENTAL LAW PRACTICUM:
COURSE SYLLABUS

University of Houston Law Center
Spring 2019

Professor Tracy Hester
Office: 142 TUII
Office hours: Tuesdays 1:30 pm - 4 pm or
by appointment (including evenings)
(713) 743-1152 (work)
(713) 775-8874 (cell)
tdheste2@central.uh.edu

Course Subject Matter: This course will overview key areas of practice within environmental law such as regulatory counseling and permitting, civil enforcement, criminal liability, private litigation over environmental contamination, policy advocacy, and environmental aspects of commercial transactions. Each lecture topic will be paired with a separate presentation by a guest speaker who practices in that area, and who will provide examples of live projects and cases for class review. These speakers may include the Harris County Attorney (civil enforcement), the Galveston Bay Foundation (permitting), the Harris County District Attorney (criminal), the Audubon Society (policy advocacy) and others.

Course objectives:   To prepare students to counsel clients on environmental law matters and ways to assure or enforce environmental compliance strategies and obligations.

Textbook: I will provide a collection of selected readings to students.  I will also try to have these materials posted on a class website.

Office Hours: My office is at TUII 142, and my office hours are on Tuesdays at 1:30 pm to 4 pm. Many of you will likely have schedule conflicts based on other classes or daytime work obligations, so I'm also happy to schedule a meeting anytime if you have difficulty getting to my office during those hours.  I can also rely extensively on e-mail queries to help students.

Grading and Explanation: Final grades will be based on performance on work projects provided by speakers, class participation, and brief papers to accompany special guest sessions. While classroom participation is very important, as per University policy I can only adjust a student's grade up or down one notch (e.g., from a B to a B+) on the basis of class participation.

I will follow the Law Center attendance policy.  You will not be allowed to take the final examination unless you attend 80% of the classes.  Excused absences will be liberally granted. 

Grading and Explanation: Final grades will be based on class participation, in-class assignments, work product for clients, class presentations of that final work product at the end of the semester, and participation in discussions with special guest visitors to the class. If you wish, some of my students have also provided a self-evaluation of their own work and their project team members - but this additional input is wholly voluntary.

Attendance:  I will follow the Law Center attendance policy. You will not be allowed to take the final exam unless you attend 80% of the classes. While I will liberally grant excused absences, I cannot grant an excused absence that will drop your total attendance below 80 percent.  Please contact me immediately if personal circumstances will create attendance problems for you.

SCHEDULE

No. Date Topics Guest Speaker(s) Assigned Readings Extra Resources and Comments
   

MASTER TRACKING LIST FOR CLIENT PROJECTS

MASTER TRACKING LIST FOR SEMESTER PROPOSALS

MASTER TRACKING LIST FOR CLIENT PROJECTS SORTED BY STUDENT

DRAFT COMMENTS ON PROPOSED DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR FOIA RULES

     
1. Jan. 14, 2019

1. Introduction: Course Overview and Review of Work Process

2. Environmental Law Research Resources and Strategies

3. Initial Overview of Regulatory Comments and Rulemaking Advocacy

 

FOIA Online

Draft FOIA request (Word and .pdf)

Practicum Style Tip Sheet (.pdf)

Practicum Grading

PowerPoint

Lecture

Environmental Law Research Guide

Research Guide for Environmental Practicum

Environmental Enforcement Databases Handout

Sample CERCLA 104(e) Information Request

Sample FOIA Complaint (Gulf of Mexico fracking)

2. Jan. 16, 2019

Regulatory Comments and Rulemaking Advocacy Workshop 1

Elena Craft, Environmental Defense Fund

Kim White, Baker Botts

This class will start at noon at the Downtown Club at 1100 Caroline, 11th Floor. For-pay parking is available, as well as light rail access. We should finish by 2:30, but please leave early if you have conflicting class obligations. You can also arrive early (at 11:30) for the mixer reception.

Workshop session will follow lunch presentation at Houston Bar Association Environmental Section meeting

Making Your Voice Heard

 
3. Jan. 21, 2019 MLK Holiday
 


 
4. Jan. 23, 2019

1. Completion of Regulatory Comments and Rulemaking Advocacy

2. Practice and Career Strategies; overview of Client Project Options and Selections

Regulatory Comments and Rulemaking Advocacy - Workshop Session 2

 

U.S. Department of Interior proposed rule to limit FOIA production

Lecture

PowerPoint (.pdf)

Dept. of Energy Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (.pdf)

TCEQ Comments on EPA Clean Power Proposed Rules

EO 12866

5. Jan. 28, 2019 Emergency Response and Disaster Practice      
6. Jan. 30, 2019 Emergency Response and Disaster Practice Workshop Ashleigh Acevedo
Pillsbury LLP
PowerPoint (.pdf)  
7. Feb. 4, 2019 Overviews on Compliance Counseling; Advocacy and Strategy

 

 

TCEQ Form P1-1 General Application for Permit

TCEQ Central Records Database

ECHO

RCRA Online

EPA Sector Notebooks

Proposed Rule on FOIA Disclosure Limits by U.S. Department of Interior

Draft environmental law professor letter to request extension of comment period

Texas Attorney General's Administrative Law Handbook

EPA Environmental Appeals Board Practice Manual

TCEQ Wastewater Permit Instructions

Sample RCRA HSWA permit

TCEQ storm water general permit

TCEQ Calendar or Public Hearings and Meetings on Permits

8. Feb. 6, 2019 Regulatory Compliance Counseling Workshop Anna Kuperstein, TransCanada Corp.

PowerPoint

Lecture

 

  Feb. 11, 2019 SIGN-UP SHEET FOR SEMESTER PROJECT INTERVIEWS
     
9. Feb. 11, 2019

Contamination Litigation and CERCLA Practice

Environmental Justice

 

CERCLA Enforcement Training Module 

VCP Program

Houston Municipal Setting Designations

EJ Legal Tools

Clean Power Plan EJ Provisions

EO 12898

EJSCREEN

EJ Powerpoint 

U.S. v. Land o' Lakes 

Sample Conservation Easement 

10. Feb. 13, 2019 Contamination Litigation and CERCLA Practice Workshop

Scott Sherman

Sherman Collaborative, LLC

   
11. Feb. 18, 2019 Writing and Projects Review      
12. Feb. 20, 2019 Writing and Projects Review      
13. Feb. 25, 2019 Environmental Permitting and Contested Cases - Overview Lecture

Guest lecture - Jennifer Ronk (Dow Chemical) re corporate compliance and transactions

 

 

14. Feb. 27, 2019 Endangered Species Management, Impact Statements, and Natural Resources Protection - Overview Lecture   PowerPoint (.pdf)

Freshwater mussel notice
 
15. March 4, 2019 Environmental Permitting and Contested Cases:  Workshop

Charles Irvine, Irvine & Conner

PowerPoint

Lecture

Changes to Contested Case Hearing Process (TCEQ PowerPoint)

GBF Comment Letter 00306

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Permit Website

16. March 6, 2019

Workshop: Endangered Species Management, Impact Statements, and Natural Resources Protection

Ben Cowan, Locke Lord

PowerPoint (.pdf)

  March 11-16 SPRING BREAK!      
17. March 18, 2019

Environmental Civil Enforcement, Privileged Investigations, and Auditing - Overview Lecture

 

Texas Audit Statute Guidance

EPA Self-Disclosure Policy

EPA Notice of eDisclosure System

eDisclosure User Guide

EPA New Oil & Gas Owner draft policy

EPA Enforcement Annual Results FY 2018

Sample Audit Findings

Sample Audit Findings Spreadsheet

Sample NOV

Sample CAFO

Sample Consent Decree 

18. March 20, 2019 . Civil Enforcement, Investigations, and Auditing Workshop

Rock Owen
Harris County Attorney's Office

ITC Tank Fire video

ITC sunrise 1 2 3
 
19. March 25, 2019 Environmental Criminal Liability - State and Federal - Overview Lecture

PowerPoint (.pdf)

 

10 Tips to Prepare for Search Warrants

U.S. Attorney Guidelines for Corporate Prosecution

20. March 27, 2019

Workshop: Environmental Criminal Liability - State

Alexander Forrest, Chief of Envtl Crimes Section, Harris County District Attorney

PowerPoint

 

21. April 1, 2019

Transactions and Sustainability -- access agreements, contractual allocations of responsibility and indemnification - Overview Lecture

 

U.S. v. Best Foods

Texas City disaster simulation exercise 
22. April 3, 2019

Transactions and Sustainability workshop

Heather Palmer
Sidley & Austin LLP

 

 

23. April 8, 2019 Writing break and individual review of projects

 

 

 

24. April 10, 2019 Writing break and individual review of projects

 

   
25. April 15, 2019 Writing break and individual review of projects

 

 

 

26. April 17, 2019 Writing break and individual review of project      
27. April 22, 2019 Writing break and individual review of project

 

 
28. April 24, 2019

Writing break and individual review of project - Last Day of Class