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Casebook Credits History Find
Environmental Practice Skills, Methods and Controversies: Siting and Permitting of a Wind Farm as a Case Study
First published Dec 2014

This course teaches the actual practice of environmental law, including mechanisms for raising and resolving controversies. We will examine – and work through -- a wind farm project from a variety of perspectives and meet with people who represent some of these interests: regulatory, community, NGO and private sector. The emphasis will not be on mastering the substance of the various environmental laws that are triggered (although some of that will be necessary), but instead on the practical skills and knowledge necessary to: identify the environmental impacts of a project; identify, parse and apply relevant statutes and regulations; analyze mechanisms for mitigating project impacts and managing controversies; identify the permits and approvals needed for a project; select and hire environmental scientists and experts to support or oppose a project; and, defend (or challenge) a project in administrative and judicial proceedings. Students in this class will learn how projects proceed through environmental review, challenges, and permitting. Depending on the time available and level of class interest, we will also look at some of the project financing issues. The course is practical, hands-on and participatory. Students will develop and apply the skills and methods needed to site a wind farm through class discussions, problem solving, and role-playing exercises. The wind farm is a proxy for any project that has both positive and adverse environmental impacts and that must work its way through multiple types of administrative and judicial proceedings and negotiation. There is no final exam. There will be short written and oral exercises through the semester and, at the end of the semester, a short final paper that focuses on ethical issues raised by the practice of environmental law. Grading will be based on the quality of class participation as well as of the exercises and final paper.