Regulatory Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

The work in this Clinic examines the applied and theoretical dimensions of environmental rulemaking, with particular emphasis on the development of an administrative record.

Students prepare written comments on pending rules, permits, or environmental impact statements (EISs) proposed by governmental agencies. As they do so, students will receive instruction in relevant law and interdisciplinary studies necessary to comment on the proposed rule, permit, or EIS. In particular, the Clinic integrates

  1. doctrinal study on the regulatory process, the administrative state, and substantive environmental law
  2. interdisciplinary knowledge relating the technical, science, and engineering issues that are presented by the proposed action
  3. skills development, with special emphasis on research and writing skills necessary for both persuasion and building an administrative record during the regulatory process.

Learning Goals and Objectives

The first objective of this Clinic is to provide an overall context for understanding the large role of rules (regulations) promulgated by nearly any agency of the state or federal executive. Agency rulemaking occupies the enormous space between legislative lawmaking and judicial interpretation, and yet this layer of the law is frequently overlooked. This Clinic takes agency actions, as opposed to statutes and opinions, as the center of legal exploration and analysis. Federal environmental regulations are particularly suitable to this kind of study, as no major federal environmental statute has been passed by Congress since 1990. For over two decades, the development of US environmental law has overwhelmingly taken place by agency actions, with significant contributions from judicial interpretation.

The second objective of the Regulatory Environmental Law and Policy Clinic is to use ongoing, real-world administrative processes to teach the tight intersections of environmental and administrative law. Environmental statutes, and the agency actions that support them, treat nature as a collective good regulated by the state; in nearly all environmental litigation the state is a necessary actor. In much of environmental litigation, then, the Administrative Procedure Act provides a central, or sometimes the only, cause of action. Students are introduced to these intersections in doctrinal courses, but this Clinic provides an outlet for synthesizing the connections in the context of applied analysis and comment.

Regulatory Environmental Clinic News

  • Jul 02, 2013


    Professor Ralph Johnson founded the Center for Envionmental Law and Policy as a research center at UW Law to overcome the inequities of Western water law.
  • Sep 25, 2012

    Source: New York Times

    More than four decades ago, Roy Prosterman left a high-paying job at a white-shoe law firm in search of a different kind of job satisfaction. He ended up finding it in Landesa, a Seattle-based nonprofit that he founded, which works to secure land rights for the rural poor in countries around the world. 
  • Oct 09, 2009


    The University of Washington School of Law's Environmental Law Clinic has won the Clinical Law and Education Association's Excellence in a Public Interest Case or Project Award for the Clinic's groundbreaking work relating to on the Exxon Valdez reopener clause, culminating in the Emmy-award winning film, The 3rd Trustee: Native Alaska and the Big Spill.

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