Environmental Law Pathway

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Environmental Law is a collective term describing international treaties, statutes, regulations, and common law or national legislation that operates to regulate the interaction of humanity and the natural environment, toward the purpose of reducing the impacts of human activity. Almost every aspect of life in the United States is touched by environmental law. Drinking water must meet state and federal quality standards before it may be consumed by the public. Car manufacturers must comply with emissions standards to protect air quality. State and federal regulations govern the manufacture, storage, transportation, and disposal of common goods and products. Environmental law shapes virtually all economic activity, including energy, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, international trade, and tourism. A specialized degree in environmental law will contribute to an understanding of the complex processes occurring between humanity and the natural environment, while developing skills applicable to a wide range of legal fields.

There are a number of courses devoted to subjects within the broad area of Environmental Law as well courses to help you prepare to take the bar examination. Students who want to pursue legal practice in Environmental Law should consider the courses below. Other courses, besides those listed below, are offered under the FIU College of Law curriculum.

Please view the Schedule of Classes to determine which courses will be offered during the current school year.

Foundation Courses related to this pathway include: Constitutional Law, International and Comparative Law, and Property.

Core Courses

Environmental Law
LAW 6471 Environmental Law (3). This is a survey of environmental regulation, addressing the environmental policies, rights, and remedies provided by the common law and various federal statutes. The course focuses on the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, and various other statutes and common law doctrines related to hazardous wastes and toxic substances. Throughout the course, students will be asked to pay attention to the regulatory and administrative structures invoked by these statutes and doctrines.

Administrative Law
LAW 6520 Administrative Law (2-3). This is an introduction to the laws controlling executive branch agencies of government. Major topics include delegation of power to agencies, modes of agency action, control of agencies by the legislative branch, control by the judicial branch, and public access and influence.
Advanced Electives

Admiralty Law
LAW 6730 Admiralty Law (2-3). This course is an introduction to the law of the sea under federal and international law. Topics covered will include rules governing liability for maritime collision, rights and duties arising from personal injury or death of a seaman, liabilities of ship owners and insurers, maritime liens and mortgages, and special problems caused by involvement of governments as parties to maritime transactions and litigation. Other topics will include admiralty practice and procedure and maritime environmental law.

Land Use Planning and Control
LAW 6460 Land Use Planning and Control (2-3). Since the 1920s, our society has regulated urban and rural uses of land in an attempt to encourage the prudent allocation of land resources, thus this course undertakes an intensive analysis of the traditional regulatory techniques, including general and specific planning, zoning, and subdivision mapping, and relates them to the practical and political aspects of the land use entitlement process and to resolve conflicting use preferences.

Law, Science, and Technology
LAW 6821 Law, Science, and Technology (3). To examine the various ways in which the legal system interacts with science technology, including the impact of the legal system on evolving fields of science and technology and the influence of these fields on the legal system. Each class will focus on a different theme involving the interaction of law, science and technology, using a specific case study. Prerequisites: First year curriculum.

Ocean and Coastal Law
LAW 7475 Ocean and Coastal Law (2-3). This course considers aspects of land use law, water law, natural resources law, property law, and constitutional law from the perspective of the special needs of the coast. The course examines the common law and major acts protecting coastal zones and natural resources, and includes discussion of the important interrelations of water, habitat, wildlife, and land use, as well as issues concerning jurisdictional conflicts.

Toxic and Environmental Tort Litigation
LAW 6473 Toxic and Environmental Tort Litigation (2-3). This course examines tort litigation, both substantively and procedurally, arising from environmental exposure to toxic substances, with emphasis on the legal theories available (e.g., nuisance, trespass, strict liability, and negligence) and the issues that present unusual challenges in such litigation for both the parties and the legal system (e.g. causation, expert testimony, damages, and statutes of limitations).

Water Resources Law
LAW 6492 Water Resources Law (2). Water Resources Law will explore water’s distinctive character as property that is both public and private, and individual and common. The course will begin with an overview survey of the general legal issues regarding historic water allocation and information regarding current water uses in the United States. First we will study the Riparian system of allocation. We will conclude that study with an examination of water resource issues facing Florida. We will then examine western prior appropriation systems. We will also conclude that study by examining the dispute among users of the Colorado River. We will conclude the course by studying issues related to groundwater and the impact of the Clean Water Act on water resources. Prerequisites: None, although Environmental and Administrative Law is helpful.
Experiential Courses

James M. Porter, Director, Clinical Adjunct Professor

Ryan B. Stoa, Fellow in Water Law and Policy College of Law Deputy Director
Global Water for Sustainability Program