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ENVIRONMENTAL LAW PRACTICUM:
COURSE SYLLABUS

University of Houston Law Center
Spring 2018

Professor Tracy Hester
Office: 142 TUII
Office hours: Wednesday 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 Wednesdays 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 PROJECTS

MASTER TRACKING LIST FOR STUDENT PORTFOLIOS

     
1. Jan. 16, 2018

CLASS CANCELLED - Ice storm

 

 

 

 

2. Jan. 18, 2018

1. Introduction: Course Overview and Review of Work Process

2. Environmental Law Research Resources and Strategies

3. Regulatory Comments and Rulemaking Advocacy

 

Making Your Voice Heard

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)

3. Jan. 23, 2018

Regulatory Comments and Rulemaking Advocacy - Workshop Session 1

Steven Cook, senior environmental and risk management counsel, Lyondell Corporation

Projects: Rulemaking and Strategy re Use of Machine Learning in Ozone Modeling; NAAEC comments

PowerPoint (.pdf)

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

TCEQ Comments on EPA Clean Power Proposed Rules

EO 12866

4. Jan. 25, 2018 Overviews on Regulatory Compliance Counseling; Advocacy and Strategy

PowerPoint

Lecture

TCEQ Form P1-1 General Application for Permit

TCEQ Central Records Database

ECHO

RCRA Online

EPA Sector Notebooks

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. Jan 30, 2018 Environmental Permitting, Hearings and Strategies; Permit Advocacy Strategies and Workshop (including contested case hearings)  

 

Changes to Contested Case Hearing Process (TCEQ PowerPoint)

GBF Wetlands Permit Review Study

GBF Comment Letter 00306

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Permit Website

6. Feb. 1, 2018 Regulatory Comments - Workshop

Paula Torrado, Community Outrech Director, Air Alliance of Houston

PowerPoint (.pdf)

 

7. Feb. 6, 2018 CLASS TO BE RESCHEDULED: Regulatory Compliance Counseling Follow up and Overview

Mike Weller, Senior Counsel, Cheniere

 

Potential projects: Residual GHG PSD Permitting; WOTUS uncertainty planning

8. Feb. 8, 2018

Deep Decarbonization and Legal Challenges

Environmental Justice Legal Issues

Richard Heinberg
Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute

PowerPoint

EJ2014 Plan (and synopsis) (skim only)

EJ Legal Tools

Clean Power Plan EJ Provisions

EO 12898

EJSCREEN

 

9. Feb. 13, 2018 Environmental Permitting, Hearings and Strategies; Permit Advocacy Strategies and Workshop (including contested case hearings)

Charles Irvine, Irvine & Conner LLP

PowerPoint

Lecture

Potential projects: Mock challenge to Total storage facility permit; challenge to Border Wall
10. Feb. 15, 2018 Workshop re Environmental Justice and Sustainability Practice Matt Tejada, Director, Office of Environmental Justice, EPA

 

Potential projects: EJ and Religion; draft EJ private action regulation
11. Feb. 20, 2018

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

50 State Survey of Contaminated Property Remediation Programs

Sample Conservation Easement Agreement

TRRP Rules

Closure of Waste Management Units Under TRRP

12. Feb. 22, 2018 Contamination Litigation and Cost Recovery Workshop

Scott Sherman, former Assistant Administrator, EPA OSWER, Sherman Collaborative LLC

 

Potential projects: Site Assessment and Strategies for New Law School Site
13. Feb. 27, 2018

Endangered Species Management, Impact Statements, and Natural Resources Protection

 

 

 

14. March 1, 2018

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

Ben Cowan, Locke Lord

PowerPoint (.pdf)

Evidence of Absence (.pdf)

Potential projects: freshwater mussel plan; High Alpine fracking field water impacts; High Island conservation easements

15. March 6, 2018

Class Workshop to review projects and assignments

(Environmental Compliance and Land Use Regulation with Phil Goodwin and Kim Mickelson, City of Houston Attorney's office, WILL BE RESCHEDULED)

 

 

 
16. March 8, 2018

Auditing and Investigation Workshop

Linda Gordon Hester and Kathleen Bertolatas, Phillips 66

Texas Audit Statute Guidance

EPA Self-Disclosure Policy

EPA Notice of eDisclosure System

eDisclosure User Guide

Workshop: mock audit of facility prior to acquisition

Sample Audit Findings

Sample Audit Findings Spreadsheet

  March 12-17 SPRING BREAK!      
17. March 20, 2018 Environmental Emergency Response

 

 

 
18. March 22, 2018 Emergency Response Workshop

Brian Sky-Eagle, Houston Fire Department, JD

This class will start at noon at the Houston LEPC meeting at the American Red Cross building at 2700 Southwest Freeway, Houston, TX  77098.  We should hopefully finish by 2:30, but it may last until 3 pm.  Please leave early if you have conflicting class obligations.

 
19. March 27, 2018 Environmental Criminal Liability - State and Federal

PowerPoint

Lecture

 

10 Tips to Prepare for Search Warrants

Policing Pollution

U.S. Attorney Guidelines for Corporate Prosecution

20. March 29, 2018

Workshop: Environmental Criminal Liability - State

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

PowerPoint (.pdf)

 

21. April 3, 2018

Workshop: Environmental Criminal Liability - State

Fred Burnside, former Director, EPA Office of Criminal Enforcement and Forensic Training, Burnside Investigations LLC

PowerPoint (.pdf)

Ahmad v. U.S.

 

22. April 5, 2018

Workshop: Environmental Legislative Practice

Thomas Hester, Legislative Director, Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX)

 

 

23. April 10, 2018 Environmental Transactions and Corporate Sustainability -- access agreements, contractual allocations of responsibility and indemnification workshop

 

 

U.S. v. Bestfoods Corp

24. April 12, 2018 Writing break and individual review of projects

 

   
25. April 17, 2018 Civil Administrative and Judicial Enforcement

 

 

Sample NOV

Sample CAFO

Sample Complaint (Petition)

Sample Answer

Sample Consent Decree

  April 18, 2018 Environmental Compliance and Land Use Regulation with Phil Goodwin and Kim Mickelson, City of Houston Attorney's office - RESCHEDULED FROM MARCH 6, 2018 CLASS

Phil Goodwin and Kim Mickelson, City of Houston Attorney's Office

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.

   
26. April 19, 2018 Civil Administrative and Judicial Enforcement - Workshop

Rock Owen, Senior Counsel, Harris County Attorney's Office

PowerPoint (.pdf)

 
27. April 24, 2018

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

Nate Teti, Director of Global Sustainability, Statoil

Possible projects: Carbonwashing in coal transactions; disclosure obligations re stranded environmental assets

 

28. April 26, 2018

Writing break and individual review of projects