Environmental Courses

Our complement of full-time faculty regularly offers a rich set of core courses in environmental, energy, land use, and natural resources law. Our faculty, together with distinguished adjunct and visiting professors, also offer an extensive array of advanced courses in the field.

The following courses are offered in the area of Environmental, Energy, Land Use, and Natural Resources Law. Not all courses on this list are offered on a regular basis. You must consult the current course list and plan your schedule accordingly.

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Administrative Law

(3-4 credits)
Prerequisites: None

A study of the legislative, executive, and judicial control of administrative action. The course includes discussion of formal and informal administrative processes, the opportunity to be heard, adequacy of notice, restrictions on the deciding body, and appellate review. 

Climate Change

(3 credits)

This course will provide an overview of the legal, economic, psychological and other interdisciplinary aspects of global climate change. This course will include a significant review of the scientific basis for climate change, and for controlling emissions and adapting to impending climate change. The course will cover international, domestic, and subnational efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. Various legal and policy tools to address climate change are examined and evaluated, such as cap-and-trade schemes; carbon taxation; traditional regulation; litigation; adaptation; and voluntary action. Various technologies and strategies are also explored: renewable energy technologies, nuclear power, forestry and agriculture. The course is an exam-based lecture course.

Coastal and Ocean Law

(2-3 credits)
Prerequisites: None

This is a course that explores the state, federal and international laws governing the use and development of resources in coastal areas and the oceans. Such an exploration covers the federal and state common law, major federal statutes, international treaties, all from the perspective of the special needs of coastal areas and oceans. Prominent in this course are the ecological underpinnings of wildlife regulation, relationships between water, habitat, wildlife, and land use, and legal issues stemming from jurisdictional conflicts. For students planning to practice law in a coastal area, this course offers a useful survey of laws that may come up in a wide variety of practices, including but not limited to land use, development of energy resources, tourism and recreation, and commercial and recreational fishing.

Condominium and Community Housing Law

(2 credits)

The course will examine the law of Florida condominiums with emphasis on those of residential character, as well as the law of mandatory homeowners' associations, and its differences from, and similarities to, the law governing condominiums. The course will cover statutory and case components of the law; document composition and drafting for the creation of condominiums; the statutory standards for operations and governance; and dispute resolution and covenant enforcement within the community.

Current Issues in Environmental Law & Policy Seminar

(3 credits)

This seminar will cover important and timely issues in environmental law. For example, the seminar may include discussion of issues that relate to various aspects of climate change adaptation and mitigation, the BP spill, and compliance with the environmental laws. Students will be expected to write a paper that will enable them to fulfill the upper level writing requirement, in addition to other course requirements.

Emerging Issues in Energy Law: Renewables and Unconventional Fossil Fuels

(3 credits)
Prerequisites: None

This course, which has a ULWR option, will address the range of legal issues associated with unconventional fossil fuel development and the generation of electricity from renewable resources. The course will give students a basic understanding of the major steps that an attorney for a wind or solar developer has to take to have a renewable project approved, from obtaining local and/or state siting approval through signing a power purchase agreement with a utility. At the local level, at which individuals place solar panels on roofs or wind turbines in backyards, we will discuss various common law and regulatory schemes for solar and wind access as well as nuisance suits and other challenges to local energy. Moving to unconventional fossil fuels, we will explore unique regulatory and common law issues posed by hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas, including changes to local and state regulation of oil and gas development, new Bureau of Land Management regulation of hydraulic fracturing, nuisance claims relating to earthquakes caused by oil and gas wastewater wells and alleged pollution from oil and gas development, and other issues. Students in the course will have the option of either taking an exam or writing a paper to fulfill the upper-level writing requirement.

Energy Law and Policy

(3 credits)
Prerequisites: None

This course introduces students to the statutes, regulations, and common law principles that apply to all aspects of the energy system, including extracting and transporting fuels by pipeline and rail and generating, transmitting, and distributing electricity.   Specific topics that we will discuss in this course include the Keystone XL oil pipeline and disputes over the “Presidential Permit” for the pipeline; the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline proposed through Florida; siting, preemption, and nuisance issues associated with renewable energy generation; recent legal disputes over the expansion of transmission lines to carry wind energy from remote areas in the Midwest to population centers; proceedings that establish rates for customers who purchase electricity and natural gas in their homes and apartments; the construction of liquefied natural gas export terminals (including one in Florida) and coal export terminals; the regulation of transporting crude oil by rail; and restructuring of the electricity industry in the United States and abroad, among other topics. There are no prerequisites for the course.

Environmental Federalism

(3 credits)

In this seminar, we will examine federalism issues that arise in environmental law and policy from a variety of theoretical, doctrinal and practical perspectives. Some environmental contexts involve state governments competing with federal agencies for regulatory primacy or being subjected to federal policy prerogatives as a condition of federal funding. More interesting, however, are cooperative federalism regimes in which state and federal agencies work together to regulate environmental issues are a provocative snapshot of the complexity and tensions of federalism in action. We will cover some of the basics of federalism theory and theories of environmental regulation; explore some contemporary theoretical treatments of federalism incorporating economic theory, game theory, decision theory, and complexity theory, among others. We will then apply these analytic tools to carefully and critically examine federalism-oriented environmental regulatory structures covering air and water quality, fossil fuel extraction, and other subjects.

Environmental Law

(3 credits)
Prerequisites: None

This course will introduce you to the core statutes, regulations, and common law principles that control humans’ impacts on environmental resources, including air, water, and soil. Environmental statutes are difficult to understand without context, so we will discuss the structure and interpretation of two statutes—the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act—in depth. By the end of the course, you will understand how to identify whether a stationary source is a “major” source of air pollution under the Clean Air Act and therefore requires a certain type of permit, whether a wetland into which a pollutant is discharged counts as “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (and why this matters), and many other core components of these Acts. We will also discuss the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (governing waste handling and disposal) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (governing the clean-up of hazardous waste sites), and we will briefly address the National Environmental Policy Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act as well as basic Administrative Law principles.

Environmental Legal Research

(2 credits)
Prerequisites: None

This course will help students develop the sophisticated research skills necessary for the effective practice of environmental law. Topics include: Statutes and legislative history documents, regulations, judicial opinions, agency documents, international environmental conventions and interpretations, and scientific and economic literature related to environmental law. Grading will be based upon short weekly assignments, class participation and the creation of a research guide in one specific area of environmental law.