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ENVIRONMENTAL LAW PRACTICUM:
COURSE SYLLABUS

Spring 2020
BLB 113

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), large and small law firms, 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 the following allocation: 40% based on your completion of a semester-long project for presentation to a prospective client in an individual meeting; 40% performance on three to four smaller work projects provided to you directly from guest speakers; and 20% for class participation. 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 receive a final grade 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

ZOOM LINK FOR REMOTE PARTICIPATION 

 

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 ALL PROJECTS SORTED BY STUDENT

     
1. Jan. 13, 2020

1. Class introduction and environmental legal research tools; list of potential topics for semester projects

2. Information practice and FOIA requests

 

FOIA Online

Draft FOIA request (Word and .pdf)

Practicum Style Tip Sheet (.pdf)

Practicum Grading

Lecture not recorded due to technical difficulties

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. 15, 2020

CLASS CANCELLED

While attendance is voluntary, all class members are invited to attend the 2020 Energy Conference at Phillips 66 headquarters.  If you wish to go, email Prof. Hester by Jan. 14 at 2 pm   for security clearance purposes.            

 

 
3. Jan. 20, 2020 MLK Holiday
 


 
4. Jan. 22, 2020

1. Regulatory Comments and Rulemaking Advocacy

2. Overview of Client Project Options and Selections

 

Making Your Voice Heard

EPA Semiannual Regulatory Index

NEPA NPRM

NEPA NPRM draft comment letter

Sample FOIA complaint

Nomadic Aggregates public hearing with TCEQ, Jan. 30, 6:30 pm

Soto Ready Mix contested case hearing, Jan. 23, 10:30 am 

Regional Air Quality Planning Committee meeting, Jan. 30, 2:30 pm 

  Jan. 22, 2020 SIGN-UP SHEET FOR SEMESTER PROJECT INTERVIEWS
     
5. Jan. 27, 2020 Regulatory Compliance Counseling Workshop Win Colbert, environmental counsel, City of Houston

 PowerPoint (.pdf

 

6. Jan. 29, 2020 Overviews on Compliance Counseling; Advocacy and Strategy

 

FINDS .

TCEQ Central Records Database .

ECHO

RCRA Online

EPA Sector Notebooks

TCEQ Form P1-1 General Application for Permit

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

7. Feb. 3, 2020 Environmental Permitting, Contested Cases, and Citizen Suits

Kristen Schlemmer, Legal Director, Bayou City Waterkeeper

PowerPoint

Broad Reach League City wetlands letter

Amicus brief

Debunking the Trump Administration's New Water Rule

Op-Ed

 

8. Feb. 5, 2020 Environmental Permitting, Contested Cases, and Citizen Suits - review session

 

 

Changes to Contested Case Hearing Process (TCEQ PowerPoint)

U.S. v. City of Houston consent decree

Bayou City Waterkeeper comments to City of Houston consent decree 

GBF Comment Letter 00306

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Permit Website

9. Feb. 10, 2020 Environmental Justice and CERCLA Practice Workshop Amy Din
Lone Star Legal Aid
Lone Star Legal Aid introductory video  
10. Feb. 12, 2020

Contamination Litigation and CERCLA Practice

 

Environmental Justice

 EJ PowerPoint

CERCLA Enforcement Training Module 

VCP Program

Houston Municipal Setting Designations

EJ Legal Tools

Clean Power Plan EJ Provisions

EO 12898

EJSCREEN

U.S. v. Land o' Lakes 

Sample Conservation Easement 

11. Feb. 17, 2020

Endangered Species Management, Impact Statements, and Natural Resources Protection

Tom Campbell and Asheligh Acevedo, Pillsbury LLP

PowerPoint (.pdf)

 
12. Feb. 19, 2020 Endangered Species Management, Impact Statements, and Natural Resources Protection   ESA and NRDA PowerPoint (.pdf)  
13. Feb. 24, 2020 Civil Enforcement, Privileged Investigations, and Auditing

 

Texas Audit Statute Guidance

EPA Self-Disclosure Policy

EPA Notice of eDisclosure System

eDisclosure User Guide

EPA Oil & Gas Owner policy

EPA Enforcement Annual Results FY 2019

 
14. Feb. 26, 2020

Civil Enforcement, Privileged Investigations, and Auditing

Rock Owens and Sarah Utley, Harris County Attorney's Office

 

Sample Audit Findings

Sample Audit Findings Spreadsheet

Sample NOV

Sample CAFO

Sample Consent Decree 

15. March 2, 2020 Individual Projects and Writing Review      
16. March 4, 2020 Individual Projects and Writing Review      
  March 9-13 SPRING BREAK!      
  March 16-18, 2020 Classes cancelled for COVID-19 outbreak      
17. March 23, 2020 Emergency Response and Disaster Practice - environmental issues from COVID-19

Jim Vines, King & Spalding

Zoom Session 

Delaying Environmental Compliance Because of Coronavirus Emergency by Arnold & Porter (2020)

Processing Requests for Enforcement Discretion, EPA (1995)

TCEQ notice of enforcement discretion

LDEQ Emergency Order

U.S. v. Murphy Oil consent decree excerpts re force majeure and dispute resolution

 
18. March 25, 2020 Emergency Response and Disaster Practice Workshop

PowerPoint

Zoom Sesssion

We have been invited to join a town hall briefing with EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler at 2:15 pm CDT. Please join as soon as you can, and we will resume class discussion after the town hall ends.  
19. March 30, 2020

Environmental Criminal Liability - Federal

Walt James, Walt James PLLC

PowerPoint (.pdf)

FDB Sampling video clip Zoom Session

 

 

20. April 1, 2020

Environmental Criminal Liability - Federal

PowerPoint (.pdf)

EPA Guidance re COVID-19 Implications for EPA's Enforcement and Complaince Assurance Program (3/25/20)

10 Tips to Prepare for Search Warrants

U.S. Attorney Guidelines for Corporate Prosecution

Zoom Session

 

 

21. April 6, 2020

Transactions and Sustainability workshop

Anna Kuperstein, TC Energy

PowerPoint (.pdf)

Zoom Session


 

 

22. April 8, 2020

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

PowerPoint (.pdf)

U.S. v. Best Foods

Zoom Session

 

 
23. April 13, 2020 Environmental Criminal Liability - State

Roger Haseman, former chief environmental prosecutor, Harris County DA

PowerPoint (.pdf)

Zoom Session

New DOJ Policy on Useo SEPs (March 2020)  
24. April 15, 2020

Environmental Criminal Liability - State

SIGN-UP SHEET FOR SEMESTER PROJECT INTERVIEWS

     
25. April 20, 2020

Submit semester projects to Prof. Hester for class discussion on 4/22/20

Prepare for final class project presentations

 

   
26. April 22, 2020 Final class project presentations

Schedule for Semester Project Presentations

Zoom Session

 

Flores short presentation

  April 24, 2020 Soft deadline to submit final semester project results by 4/24/20 at 5:00 pm CDT.