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ENVIRONMENTAL LAW PRACTICUM:
COURSE SYLLABUS

University of Houston Law Center
Spring 2017

Professor Tracy Hester
Office: 142 TUII
Office hours: Tuesday 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. Students will also provide a self-evaluation of their own work and their project team members. 

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) Readings Comments
1. Jan. 18, 2017

1. Introduction: Course Overview and Review of Work Process

2. Environmental Law Research Resources and Strategies

3. Workshop Session - FOIA Requests and Information Gathering Authorities

1. None


2. None

3. None

Readings

Practicum Style Tip Sheet (Word and .pdf)

Practicum Grading (Word and .pdf)

FOIA Online

Draft FOIA request (Word and .pdf)

eDisclosure Fact Sheet

Lecture

Environmental Enforcement Databases Handout

Environmental Law Research Guide

Research Guide for Environmental Practicum

eDisclosure Users Guide

Sample CERCLA 104(e) Information Request

Sample FOIA Complaint (Gulf of Mexico fracking)

2. Jan. 23, 2017

Regulatory Comments and Rulemaking Advocacy

 

Making Your Voice Heard

Lecture

CERCLA 108b Financial Assurance for Chemical Sector ANPR

TCEQ Comments on EPA Clean Power Proposed Rules

EO 12866

3. Jan. 25, 2017 Regulatory Comments - Workshop Session Adrian Shelly, Director, Air Alliance of Houston Given class size, future lectures will not be recorded absent special circumstances.

 

4. Jan. 30, 2017 Overviews on Regulatory Compliance Counseling; Advocacy and Strategy  

TCEQ Form P1-1 General Application for Permit

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

TCEQ Central Records Database

ECHO

RCRA Online

EPA Sector Notebooks

 

Lecture

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

5. Feb. 1, 2017 Regulatory Compliance Counseling Follow up and Overview

Laura Fiffick, Director of Regulatory Compliance, BNSF Railway

We will meet at noon in the Albertus Room. Lunch will be provided.

Environmental Regulatory Compliance Counseling Powerpoint

Lecture

 

6. Feb. 6, 2017 Environmental Permitting, Hearings and Strategies; Permit Advocacy Strategies and Workshop (including contested case hearings)  

Lecture

Changes to Contested Case Hearing Process (TCEQ PowerPoint)
7. Feb. 8, 2017

Environmental Permitting, Hearings and Strategies; Permit Advocacy Strategies and Workshop (including contested case hearings)

Bob Stokes, Galveston Bay Foundation

PowerPoint

Lecture

GBF Wetlands Permit Review Study

GBF Comment Letter 00306

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Permit Website

8. Feb. 13, 2017

Contamination Litigation and Cost Recovery (CERCLA, RCRA, Tort)/ Emergency Response

 

CERCLA Enforcement Training Module

TRRP Applicability and Grandfathering

TCEQ Voluntary Cleanup Program

Houston Municipal Setting Designations

U.S. v. Land O' Lakes

By class consensus, this lecture is not recorded

50 State Survey of Contaminated Property Remediation Programs

Sample Conservation Easement Agreement

TRRP Rules

Closure of Waste Management Units Under TRRP

9. Feb. 17, 2017 Contamination Litigation and Cost Recovery Workshop

Francis Chin, Waste Management Inc.

Given location of talk, this lecture was not recorded

 
10. Feb. 20, 2017

Writing break and review of workshop projects

1. FOIA Request
2. Regulatory Comments
3. Permit Advocacy
4. Regulatory Compliance Counseling

   

 

11. Feb. 22, 2017

Writing break and review of workshop projects

1. FOIA Request
2. Regulatory Comments
3. Permit Advocacy
4. Regulatory Compliance Counseling

 

 

 

12. Feb. 27, 2017

Environmental Auditing, Self-Assessment, Privileges and Disclosure Obligations

 

 

 
13. March 1, 2017 Auditing and Investigation Workshop

Tim Wilkins, Bracewell LLP

Texas Audit Statute Guidance

EPA Self-Disclosure Policy

EPA Notice of eDisclosure System

Sample Audit Findings

Sample Audit Findings Spreadsheet

 
14. March 6, 2017 Environmental Criminal Liability (federal and state)  

 

10 Tips to Prepare for Search Warrants

Policing Pollution

U.S. Attorney Guidelines for Corporate Prosecution

15. March 8, 2017

Environmental Criminal Liability (state) - Workshop

NOTE: This class will be held immediately after the Houston Bar Association's environmental section meeting at the Downtown Club, 1100 Caroline Street.

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

 

 

  March 13-16 SPRING BREAK!      
16. March 20, 2017 Environmental Emergency Response

 

 

 
17. March 22, 2017 Emergency Response Workshop

Mark Farley, Katten Muchin

NOTE: we will meet at noon in our usual classroom; lunch will be provided

   
18. March 27, 2017 Writing break and review of projects

 

No lecture

 

19. March 29, 2017

Writing break and review of projects

 

No lecture

 

20. April 3, 2017 Civil Administrative and Judicial Enforcement

 

 

Sample NOV

Sample CAFO

Sample Complaint (Petition)

Sample Answer

Sample Consent Decree

21. April 5, 2017 Civil Administrative and Judicial Enforcement - Workshop

Rock Owen, Harris County Attorney's Office

   
22. April 10, 2017 Writing break and review of projects

No lecture

 

 

23. April 12, 2017 Writing break and review of projects

No lecture

 

 

 
24. April 17, 2017

Environmental Criminal Liability Workshop (Federal) - Workshop

David Gerger, Quinn Emmanuel

Hall Memo

Beech Ridge

Citgo Petroleum

Devaney Memo

Yates Memo

PowerPoint
(pdf)

 

25. April 19, 2017 Environmental Transactions and Corporate Sustainability -- access agreements, contractual allocations of responsibility and indemnification workshop

Terry Gage, Anadarko

PowerPoint
(pdf)

 
26. April 24, 2017

Writing break and individual review of projects

 

 

 

27. April 26, 2017

Writing break and individual review of proejcts