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This course provides a theoretical and practical overview of litigating environmental citizen suits. Most federal environmental statutes, such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, include a provision allowing “any person” to bring suit in federal court against “any person” who violates the statute. These “citizen suits” have many unique characteristics that distinguish them from typical civil litigation. Plaintiffs may also challenge agency action under certain other environmental statutes, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act.
Students in this class will learn, from start to finish, how to litigate cases under the federal environmental laws—both true citizen-suit cases and cases brought under the APA. The emphasis will not be on mastering the substance of the various environmental laws (although some of that will be necessary), but instead on the practical skills and knowledge necessary to prosecute and defend a citizen suit.
The topics to be covered include:
• The origin and nature of citizen suits.
• Factual investigation.
• Notice letters and other conditions precedent.
• Standing and other procedural requirements and defenses.
• Remedies, including injunctions, civil penalties, and attorneys' fees.
• Strategies for plaintiffs, defendants, and intervenors.
• Media relations.
• Ethical issues in environmental litigation.
Students in the seminar are encouraged to also enroll in the Environmental Law & Policy Clinic, which will provide students with practical experience through projects for clinic clients. Registration in the Clinic is not required.
LLM students require the permission of the instructor.
Procedure & Practice
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