Environmental Advocacy Clinic
The Environmental Advocacy Clinic is an in-house clinic that operates as a public interest law office, teaching students how to be lawyers by representing clients in need. Clinical experience helps students become well-rounded, skilled professionals who can develop arguments and claims from the ground up, explore strategies and options, and communicate effectively with clients, courts, agency officials, scientific experts, and opposing parties.
In the Clinic, students serve as the lead attorney, supervised by an experienced lawyer, representing clients, including, leading national conservation organizations, and local community groups to promote access to justice on important environmental and natural resources issues. We’ve created positive outcomes for clients in a variety of areas including:
Protecting New England’s Mature Forests: Students are advocating for the protection of mature forests critical to the region’s climate resilience and biodiversity, representing our client Standing Trees, a grassroots membership organization that works to protect and restore New England’s forests for the benefit of the climate, clean water, and biodiversity, with a focus on state and federal public lands in New Hampshire and Vermont. Students are now challenging several U.S. Forest Service proposed logging projects in the White Mountain National Forest that seek to log mature forests with outstanding natural resource value and have filed formal objections to these projects. Students also are using the Freedom of Information Act and state public records laws to obtain important agency documents about these projects and other forest and wildlife protection issues. The students’ advocacy seeks to ensure that the Forest Service uses the best available science in considering logging projects and fully complies with relevant federal environmental protection laws and guidance, including the National Forest Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
Protecting Communities from Pollution: A team of students filed comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) calling for comprehensive analysis of flooding and natural resource impacts on the relicensing of the Pensacola Dam in northeastern Oklahoma. The dam exacerbates flooding upstream, especially along the highly contaminated Tar Creek. One of the first superfund sites in the country, Tar Creek is laden with toxic pollution from long-abandoned lead and zinc mining operations in the area. Students are continuing to work to ensure that during the relicensing process, FERC takes responsibility for comprehensively analyzing upstream flooding exacerbated by the dam, climate change impacts on the dam’s operations, impacts of toxic pollution and compliance with the Endangered Species Act.
The Clinic opened its doors to students and clients in August 2003 as the Environmental and Natural Resources Clinic with a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. The Clinic now operates as the Environmental Advocacy Clinic, and Christophe Courchesne serves as Director.