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Energy and Environmental Law Certificate

Through the Center for Energy and Environmental Law (CEEL), students at UConn School of Law have access to rich educational experiences in the growing fields of energy and environmental law. CEEL is on the vanguard of environmental and energy education—recognizing these disciplines must be combined in study and in preparing our students.

Opportunities for students include unparalleled classroom learning — in courses ranging from International Environmental Law to Land Use, Energy Law to Climate Law — that may include, at the student’s discretion, the chance to work one-on-one with a member of the CEEL faculty to complete a major writing project. Students may also opt to engage in real-world, hands-on clinical training, through the CEEL externship clinic, externships with federal agencies or nationally-recognized nonprofit organizations through the Semester in DC program, and a special externship program with the State of Connecticut’s executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Through these opportunities, CEEL provides students with a chance to focus on the areas that most engage and excite them.

Students have the opportunity to pursue a Certificate in Energy and Environmental Law by creating an individualized curriculum of energy and environmental course work, as well as one of the following: an advanced writing project, a clinic, or an externship with an appropriate law firm, energy company, utility, regulatory or quasi-public agency, or public interest organization. Through the certificate program, students develop substantive knowledge in energy and environmental law, as well as strengthen their analytical, lawyering, legal research, and writing skills.

Read More About the Center for Energy and Enviromental Law »

Twelve (12) credits are required to complete the certificate: 

Administrative Law (3 credits)
Energy Law Course (choose from the following):
Climate Law* (3 credits)
Energy & Sustainability (3 credits)
Energy Regulation & Policy (3 credits)
Renewable Energy Law (3 credits)
Environmental Law Course (choose from the following):
Animal Law (3 credits)
Climate Law (3 credits)
Environmental & Toxic Torts (3 credits)
Environmental Law (3 credits)
International Environmental Law (3 credits)
Historic Preservation Law (3 credits)
Land Use (3 credits)
Natural Resources Law (3 credits)
Toxic Torts (3 credits)
Sustained Project (3 credits), including any one of the following: 

  • A writing project that produces a substantial paper of an intensive, analytical character which if of high quality that is supervised by a member of the energy or environmental law faculty. If there are multiple drafts, this paper may also be used to satisfy the Upper Class Writing Requirement; 
  • Participation in the Environmental Law Clinic or the Energy and Environmental Law Practice Clinic; or 
  • An externship or externship clinic in energy or environmental law with a significant writing requirement 

The certificate is open to all J.D. students. Prior to graduating, you must submit the “Certificate Studies, Intention to Participate Form” form to the registrar’s office. 
Please direct questions about the certificate program to Professor Joseph MacDougald, professor in residence and executive director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Law. 
*Climate Law may be used to satisfy either the Environmental Law or the Energy Law requirement. It may not be used to satisfy both requirements. The topic for the Climate Law research paper must reflect the discipline area to which the course is being applied.

Administrative Law
This course explores the process by which power is exercised by federal government agencies in the United States, and the mechanisms through which that exercise of power is guided and constrained.

Advanced Energy Writing Seminar
Environmental, economic, social and security concerns are converging in the field of energy law and policy. Finding a way to more sustainably power societies around the globe may be one of the biggest challenges of our time, and will require creative thinking and new solutions. This course provides students with the research, writing, analytical and presentation skills necessary to meaningfully contribute in any energy-related environment, whether that be a government agency, law firm, public interest organization, corporation or utility.
CEEL Externship Clinic 
This clinic is offered through the Center for Energy and Environmental Law (CEEL). Students work as policy interns for the Legislative Environment Committee, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, or the regulated public utilities. This externship clinic requires a minimum of (12) placement hours work per week. A required seminar class also meets approximately twice per month either in class meetings or for one-on-one discussion of the substantive law and your experience.

Depending on placement, suggested preparation includes: Environmental Law (Law 7650) or Administrative Law (Law 7600) or Energy Law (Law 7811). Enrollment is limited and instructor permission is required. Credits are ungraded.

Climate Law
This course studies changes in law and policy ranging from the Clean Air Act and the Kyoto Protocol, to the law of nuisance, land use, securities regulation, and energy. The readings are organized chronologically, beginning with a thorough review of the Clean Air Act, through the successful cap and trade systems for sulfur-dioxide, to the Kyoto Protocol, Massachusetts v. EPA, the current litigation making its way through the federal system, and the area of local and state laws and initiatives that have been enacted over the last several years. Guest speakers in climatology, energy law, and climate practice will, schedules permitting, supplement the syllabus.

Clinic: Environmental Law
This clinic is offered through the Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE), the premier non-profit public-interest legal advocate for Connecticut's environment. Students work directly with CFE attorneys on CFE matters pending before administrative agencies, courts and the legislature. Clinical assignments are performed at CFE's office in New Haven, CT. An on campus bi-weekly, (every two weeks) seminar class taught by CFE attorneys and visiting experts focuses on current issues in Connecticut environmental law as well as public interest legal advocacy approaches to such issues. This year long clinic requires a minimum of 10 clinical work per week. Pre or co requisite: Environmental Law (Law 650) or Administrative Law (Law 600).

Clinic: Energy and Environmental Law Practice
This course focuses on developing students’ lawyering skills, judgment and professional responsibility, as well as deepening their understanding of environmental law and practice. Under the supervision of lawyers at the Connecticut Urban Legal Initiative, Inc., students provide legal services to clients in need of representation in environmental matters, and who are not otherwise represented by the private bar. Weekly seminars explore various practice elements including: federal and state causes of action, pleadings and proof of facts; adjudications before the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the Connecticut Siting Council; regulatory compliance issues; investigation and remediation strategies for environmentally impaired property; and structuring the purchase, sale, financing and leasing of so-called “Brownfields” property. Depending on the needs of the clients in a given semester, related student experiences are likely to include: (1) evaluation of potential client matters and review of possible conflicts of interest; (2) interviewing and interaction with clients; (3) addressing ethical, tactical, legal and business issues that emerge in the course of representation; and (4) drafting documents such as legal memoranda, client letters and pleadings in administrative proceedings.

Energy Regulation and Policy
Finding a way to more sustainably power societies around the globe may be one of the biggest challenges of our time. Focusing on the regulation and design of energy systems (i.e., the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity) and markets, this course provides an introduction to the economic, social, environmental and policy issues raised by the current systems of energy use. This course examines the trade-offs and uncertainties inherent in evaluating and choosing different energy options and provide a framework for developing and assessing sustainable policy and regulatory solutions. (Formerly Offered as: Energy and Sustainability)

Energy Law
Content varies with the interests of those enrolled and the professor. The course emphasizes oil and gas law. Within that field, it considers the economics of the industry, including its environmental impact; its international aspects, including political concerns and its maritime aspects; i.e., offshore drilling and transportation. The broader context will include alternative sources of energy, as well as, more broadly still, the nature of energy, from its cosmological to its cellular and nuclear forms.

Environmental and Toxic Torts
This course examines selected topics in the area of environmental and toxic tort litigation. These topics include, as time permits: i) federal regulation of toxic materials, e.g. CERCLA, RCRA and TOSCA; ii) common law causes of action, e.g. trespass, nuisance, abnormally dangerous activities, strict products liability, market share and other forms of collective liability; iii) procedural issues in toxic tort litigation; iv) statutory and common law defenses, including statute of limitations and lack of causation; v) use of expert testimony; vi) compensatory and punitive damages, including entitlement to attorneys' fees and use of structured settlements; vii) collateral insurance issues in environmental and toxic tort cases; and viii) selected specific toxic torts problems, e.g. acid rain, agent orange, interstate air pollution, asbestos and lead pollution, mold, pesticides and tobacco products.

Environmental/Land Use
This course prepares students to both effectively advise their clients about environmental matters in a land use context and to present effective environmental arguments in a land use proceeding. Called the forgotten agenda of the environmental movement, land use law controls thousands of daily decisions, whose cumulative impact is only recently understood as one of the most significant factors affecting our environment. This course arms land use and environmental attorneys with the tools to advocate environmental issues in the land use context by exploring the growing body of law and legislative tools that recognize the inherent connection between the land use and environmental laws. Students will be required to participate in several in-class simulations, attend a municipal zoning hearing, and write a paper relevant to the topic. Environmental Law (650) or Land Use Controls (721) are pre or co-requisites.

Environmental Law
This course is an introduction to the law of environmental protection, with an emphasis on air and water pollution as well as the control of toxic substances and toxic wastes. It  examines the different strategies for environmental protection, including public regulation, common law doctrines, and economic incentives such as taxes and subsidies. The course considers the roles of legislative, administrative and executive bodies (local, state and federal) and judicial review of their actions, including federal and state administrative procedures relevant to protecting the environment and intergovernmental problems of control.

Environmental Law of the EU
This course is an introduction to European environmental law. The focus is on the relationship between free trade and environmental policy as well as the basic environmental principles that form the basis of European environmental law and policy (such as the precautionary principle). Several highly topical issues will be addressed, such as climate change law, natural resources law, water law, and air quality law.

International Environmental Law (Formerly Offered as: Globalization and the Environment)
Mankind has known for over fifty years that it is capable of destroying the planet through war. What we have learned in the last thirty years is that productive and peaceful human behavior is also capable of ravaging the planet: depleting the planet's ozone shield, warming the climate, flooding coastal habitats, poisoning humans and animals through exposure to toxic compounds, depleting fisheries and forests, obliterating indigenous cultures, and decimating the global heritage of biodiversity. These ailments are caused, in part, by the ever-expanding scale, and toxicity, of production by private companies. These harms are also caused, indirectly, by trans-national rules which promote the mobility of goods and capital, thereby deterring and impeding strict national and local regulation of companies. Devastating environmental impacts thus form a large part of what critics have in mind when they complain of the evils of 'globalization.' There are two broad approaches the world might adopt to respond to such evils. One is to try to reverse the historic trend towards bigness and return to small scale production marketed at the local level and regulated by local jurisdictions. This will never happen, for the simple reason that competition, economies of scale, free trade, and mobile capital have also brought with them economic benefits which most governments, and many people, value even more than they fear the adverse consequences of globalization. This leaves the other approach, which is to develop a globalized regime of regulation that is up to the challenge of controlling globalized capital. This course is about mankind's efforts to implement the second solution in the environmental realm, by developing a truly global regime of treaties and regulations which seeks to control the pollution, the resource depletion and the ecological degradation that has hitherto accompanied globalized trade and commerce. We will study the origins, design, interpretation, achievements, and limitations of the great treaties that have joined nations in combating common problems facing the planet: the ozone treaty, climate change treaty, biodiversity treaty, a series of international fisheries treaties, and the treaty on control of persistent organic compounds. We also will examine the conflicts that have arisen between the goals of environmental protection embodied in such treaties, and the goals of free trade and investment pursued by the World Trade Organization and other free trade agreements. Students will be invited to explore ways to reconcile these conflicts in ways that promote both prosperity and environmental protection.

Land Use
This course will evaluate the means 'formal/legal and informal/non-legal' by which landowners, developers, architects, planners, neighbors, private organizations, and government may shape the use of land. Close attention will be paid to: the tension between regulation and landowners' rights; aesthetic controls and historic preservation; planning concepts; constitutional issues; building codes; environmental concerns; and the role of markets. A background in property law is helpful but not required.

Natural Resources Law
This course examines the law governing protection and use of natural resources such as water, wildlife and biodiversity, fish and other marine resources, minerals, wetlands, forests, parks and other public lands, and coastal areas. A number of different regulatory and other legal tools are available to manage and preserve natural resources and the course will survey a variety of these, including common law property rights, public regulation, public ownership, as well as the use of economic incentives such as taxes and subsidies. The National Environmental Policy Act's requirement of environmental impact assessment by federal agencies will be covered. The course will consider specific natural resources in the context of the larger ecosystems in which each exists.

Renewable Energy and Green Building Law: Faculty Directed Reading Seminar
This seminar involves participation in a reading group led by a full time faculty member. A minimum of three students and a maximum of eight students is allowed. The seminar may be on any subject of mutual interest to the faculty member and students. Students may initiate a reading seminar by approaching a faculty member or a faculty member may initiate a reading seminar by approaching a group of students or by listing the seminar as a course during registration. The reading seminar will meet for at least one hour per week, and can be scheduled in the alternative to meet on an every other week basis for two hour sessions. Students will be expected to do reading for the seminar which equals one substantial law review article every week, or a book every other week. One ten-page reflection paper is required. Students are limited to one reading seminar per semester, and may enroll in different seminars again in subsequent semesters. Grading is on a pass/fail basis.

Renewable Energy Law
This course examines renewable energy projects and the legal and political environment in which they are financed and developed in the United States. Topics include the role of renewable energy projects in a restructured and competitive energy industry and the design of renewable portfolio standards. The use of other policy instruments, such as subsidies, to encourage the development of renewable energy projects, and the politics of siting and financing such projects, will also be considered.