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
- doctrinal study on the regulatory process, the administrative state, and substantive environmental law
- interdisciplinary knowledge relating the technical, science, and engineering issues that are presented by the proposed action
- 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
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
Nov 06, 2015
The University of Washington held its first annual symposium on environmental law last week. The idea is to choose a topic and examine how it fits into current and future regulations. This year’s focus—ocean acidification.
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.