The Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic works on a range of state, regional, and national environmental issues concentrated in four program areas: Water, Coal & Climate, Biodiversity, and Healthy Communities.
The ENRLC works to protect and restore surface waters, groundwater, and aquatic ecosystems. We’ve filed citizen suits, challenged agency actions, counseled neighborhood groups, and advocated for regulatory and policy changes in multiple venues. A few examples:
Cleaning Up Polluted Mountain Streams
Appealing a permit issued by Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources that would have allowed Jay Peak Resort to continue discharging sediment into impaired mountain streams.
Stopping Vermont Yankee's Hot Water Discharge
Urging the State of Vermont to protect the Connecticut River by imposing adequate controls on Vermont Yankee's thermal discharge and cooling water intake structure.
Protecting Vermont’s Water Quality through Systemic Reform
Petitioning the United States Environmental Protection Agency to either assume control of Vermont’s Clean Water Act program, or to require Vermont to properly administer the Act.
Preventing Groundwater Pollution in Southwestern Vermont
Challenging Omya, Inc. to properly dispose of its solid waste in accordance with Vermont and federal solid waste law.
Coal & Climate
The Clinic's Coal & Climate projects offer student clinicians the chance to work on cutting-edge issues relating to global climate change using a variety of legal tools and strategies. Much of the Clinic's climate work involves the coal and oil industries because of their overwhelming contribution to the climate crisis and harmful impacts on human health and the environment. A few examples:
Challenging the Alberta Clipper Switcheroo
Suing the State Department for allowing Enbridge, Inc. to pipe thousands of gallons of tar sands oil over the border before completing an environmental impact analysis.
Protecting Montana Citizens and Ranchers from New Coal Mining Activities
Working with the Northern Plains Resource Council to prevent harmful coal development in Montana's Powder River Basin.
Keeping Tar Sands out of New England
Partnering with local and national groups to keep shipments of tar sands oil from flowing through the Portland-Montreal pipeline.
Since its inception, the Clinic has been devoted to protecting endangered species, biodiversity, healthy ecosystems, and the natural beauty of wild places for their own sake and for the benefit of current and future generations. These irreplaceable resources face a wide array of human-induced threats, including climate change, industrial activities, and government programs that encourage rapid development without adequate attention to environmental consequences. A few examples of the Clinic's work:
Protecting Canada Lynx from Trapping
Suing the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for issuing an Incidental Take Permit that allows trappers in the state of Maine to harm the threatened lynx species.
Protecting Puerto Rico's Rich Ecosystems from Proposed Via Verde Pipeline
Fighting to protect over 300 acres of wetlands, numerous streams and surface waters, protected natural reserves, unique limestone karst formations, ancient archaeological sites, and more than 40 federally listed endangered species.
Protecting the Gray Wolf in the Northeast
Requiring the United States to maintain Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf.
Saving Passamaquoddy Bay
Challenging the federal government’s failure to properly consider the cultural, spiritual, and environmental impacts of a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal on the Passamaquoddy Tribe’s Pleasant Point Reservation.
A key component of the Healthy Communities program is to help communities in northern New England address contaminated sites and polluting facilities in their neighborhoods, often in partnership with the New England-based advocacy group Toxics Action Center. This program also includes broader advocacy work directed toward advancing healthy, sustainable policies for the planet. Some examples include:
Requiring Labels for Genetically Engineered Foods
Providing legal support to advance Vermont’s trailblazing labeling law for genetically engineered foods, and helping to defend the law in court.
Opposing Smokestack Industry Next to Residential Community
Representing residents of Graniteville, Vermont, to protect them from air pollution, dangerous traffic, and other threats posed by a new asphalt plant and rock crusher.
Helping Neighbors of Factory Farms
Providing tools to help people who live near factory farms challenge their property tax assessments.