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University of Houston Law Center
Spring 2014

Professor Tracy Hester
Office: 142 TUII
Office hours: Wed 1:30 - 3:00 pm
(713) 743-1152 (work)
(713) 775-8874 (cell)

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 onWednesdays at 1:30 to 3:00 pm. Many of you will likely have schedule conflicts based on other classes or daytime work obligations, so I'm also glad to schedule any direct conferences or meetings 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 a brief final examination to reinforce class concepts.  The final examination will consist of essay questions. 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 a final exam, class participation, and in-class assignments and exercises. The final will consist of essay questions. 

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.


No. Date Topics Guest Speaker(s) Readings Comments
1. Jan. 14, 2014

Introduction: Course Overview and Review of Work Process

Introductory Workshop Session - FOIA Requests and Information Gathering Authorities


Sample CERCLA 104(e) Information Request

Request for Comments on Revised TCEQ Penalty Policy

2. Jan. 16, 2014

Administrative Practice and Practicalities

Environmental Law Research Resources and Strategies

Katy Stein, Environmental Research Specialist, UHLC Library

Draft FOIA request



Environmental Enforcement Databases Handout

Environmental Law Research Guide

Research Guide for Environmental Practicum

3. Jan. 21, 2014 Regulatory comments and Rulemaking Advocacy  


4. Jan. 23, 2014 Regulatory Comments - Workshop Session

Larry Soward, Air Alliance of Houston


Air Alliance GHG Permiting Rule --Comment Background Materials

  Jan. 28, 2014 Class cancelled - the Great Houston Ice "Storm" of 2014      
5. Jan. 30, 2014 Environmental Permitting, Hearings and Strategies; Contested Hearings and Permit Advocacy Strategies  

Texas Attorney General's Administrative Law Handbook

EPA Environmental Appeals Board Practice Manual

Notice of Receipt of Application and Intent to Obtain Water Permit by Dos Republicas


6. Feb. 4, 2014 Environmental Permitting Advocacy Workshop Bob Stokes, Galveston Bay Foundation

GBF Wetlands Permit Review Study

Powerpoint Presentation

GBF Comment Letter 00306

GBF Comment Letter 00063

GBF Comment Letter 00933

GBF Comment Letter 00797

GBF Comment Letter 00749

High Island
8. Feb. 6, 2014 Contested Environmental Hearing Workshop Charles Irvine, Blackburn & Carter

PowerPoint Presentation

Contested Case Hearing Process Flowchart

9. Feb. 11, 2014 Regulatory Compliance Counseling   Lecture  
10. Feb. 13, 2014 Regulatory Compliance Counseling - Workshop Session Snehal Patel, ExxonMobil PowerPoint Presentation  
20. Feb. 18, 2014 Contamination Litigation and Cost Recovery (CERCLA, RCRA, Tort)  

CERCLA Enforcement Training Module

Closure of Waste Management Units Under TRRP

TRRP Applicability and Grandfathering

TRRP Rules

Municipal Immunity for CERCLA Liability for Involuntary State Action, EPA Guidance Memo (1995)

TCEQ Voluntary Cleanup Program

Houston Municipal Setting Designations

21. Feb. 20, 2014 Contamination Litigation and Cost Recovery Workshop

John Jacob, Eastwood Civic Association

Scott Sherman, Bracewell & Giuliani (former Assistant Administrator for EPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Respones)

We will distribute a direct link to materials provided by Dr. Jacob. Until then, you can access the Google Drive folder here.

Public Meeting Briefing Slides

Groundwater Cross-Section

13. Feb. 25, 2014

Auditing and Internal Investigations

Emergency Response




14. Feb. 27, 2014 Auditing and Investigation Workshop Ben Patton (for Mark Farley), Katten Muchin - Incident Response Practice Group PowerPoint  
11. March 4, 2014

Civil Enforcement - Regulatory Violations and Administrative Responses




Sample NOV

Sample CAFO

12. March 6, 2014 Project Review and Strategy Assessment      
17. March 11-13, 2014 SPRING BREAK!      
18. March 18, 2014 Civil Judicial Enforcement

Adam Kushner, Lovell Hogans - former Director of EPA Civil Enforcement - CANCELLED



Sample Complaint (Petition)

Sample Answer

Sample Consent Decree

Federal Consent Decree Fairness Act

19. March 20, 2014 Civil Judicial Enforcement Workshop Rock Owen, Harris County Attorney's Office


Enforcement PowerPoint


22. March 25, 2014 Environmental Criminal Liability and Enforcement  



Laughing Gull


10 Tips to Prepare for Search Warrants

23. March 27, 2014 Environmental Criminal Liability Workshop Roger Haseman, Harris County District Attorney's office



24. April 1, 2014 Environmental Criminal Liability and Enforcement  


U.S. Attorney Guidelines for Corporate Prosecution

25. April 3, 2014 Environmental Criminal Liability Workshop George Wilkinson, Vinson & Elkins Lecture  
26. April 8, 2014

Environmental Transactions -- access agreements, contractual allocations of responsibility and indemnification



27. April 10, 2014 Environmental Transactions Workshop

Linda Aldrich, Anadarko


Civil Penalty Policy for Section 311(b)(3) and Section 311(j) of the Clean Water Act

Order re Cross Motions for Parital Summary Judgment on Liability in Deepwater Horizon Litigation (Feb. 22, 2012)


28. April 15, 2014

Mini-lecture: Environmental Justice and Equity

Completion of projects


Environmental Justice Reference Readings

Environmental Justice Powerpoint

29. April 17, 2014

Completion of projects

30. April 22, 2014

Completion of projects

31. April 24, 2014 Final class