Environmental Courses


 

The Center for Environmental, Energy and Land Use Law 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. Here is the list of offered courses for the Academic Year 2022-2023. Please consult the law school's current course offerings and plan your schedule accordingly.

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Administrative Law

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.

Administrative Law Research

The course introduces students to effective legal research techniques used to find the law of federal and state agencies. This course provides students with practical, hands-on experience with legal resources and research tools. This course emphasizes building the practical research skills required to succeed in an increasingly complex legal and regulatory environment.

Admiralty Law

A study of the law of the sea, including admiralty jurisdiction, maritime liens, limitation of liability, collision, towage, charter parties, and the rights of injured maritime workers and passengers.

Advanced Legal Research in Administrative Law

This online, asynchronous course is designed to help students develop the sophisticated research skills necessary for the effective practice of administrative law. Students will be introduced to basic concepts, sources, and specialized tools used in federal, Florida, and other state administrative law research. Skills taught will include efficiently researching secondary sources, government entities, regulations, administrative and judicial decisions, agency documents, and problem analyses. Students will learn research strategies for specialized practice areas such as securities, environmental, tax and labor law. 

Animal Law

Throughout the semester, we will examine the historical and current status of animals in our legal system.  We will examine legal issues involving animals, including veterinary malpractice, recovery for injuries to animals, dog bites, animal cruelty, regulation of agricultural animals and animal legal standing. By necessity, these legal issues involve principles of tort law, criminal law, property law and even some constitutional law. This course is not an animal rights course, but rather a survey of a burgeoning and dynamic field of law, of which animal rights is but a part. Students will explore whether the law has a place for animals as something other than mere property, and if so, where lines ought to be drawn.  

This course will involve much class discussion. Accordingly, the course is graded on quality class participation, an in-class debate, and a final exam.

Climate Change Law Policy & Science

This class explores the interdisciplinary issues surrounding the problem of climate change, perhaps the most vexing and dangerous of environmental or social problems ever to confront humankind. The objective is to prepare students for areas of law – most of which are in early developmental stages – that affect climate change or adapt to climate change. In so doing, this seminar will require students to delve into not only the developing legal issues of climate change, but also the scientific, economic, technological, and psychological aspects of climate change.

Coastal and Ocean Law

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.

Current Issues in Environmental Law & Policy Seminar

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.

Energy Law and Policy

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 disputes and legal battles surrounding the Keystone XL oil pipeline and the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline; siting, preemption, and nuisance issues associated with renewable energy generation; 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.

Environmental Justice

This course addresses environmental justice as a legal and social concern. Using case studies, academic literature, and other materials, we will engage with the history of environmental injustices inflicted upon traditionally disenfranchised communities and the rise of the environmental justice movement in response. In doing so, we examine the legal and social tools with which the environmental justice movement operates, and the barriers to achieving environmental justice. In looking to the future, the course will then focus on the unique environmental justice issues arising from anthropogenic climate change, also known as climate justice.

Environmental Law

This course introduces students to the core federal statutes, regulations, and common law principles that control humans’ impacts on environmental resources, including air, water, and soil. The course explores different types of approaches to controlling these impacts, such as market mechanisms, liability regimes, or regulations requiring specific pollution control technologies.  The course addresses in depth several federal statutes that regulate many aspects of industrial and individual behavior, including requiring specific pollutant reductions and permits prior to engaging in a polluting activity. Further, Environmental Law includes discussion of mechanisms for implementing and enforcing these federal statutes.

Florida Administrative Law

The course is about Florida state executive branch agencies, executive branch governmental power, and the processes and standards applicable to the exercise of executive branch agency power with respect to persons regulated by the executive branch. The course aims to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of various administrative processes established in Chapter 120, Florida Statutes (the Florida Administrative Procedure Act, or “APA”), and to provide students with an understanding of the role of the Florida APA in creating and determining the substantive and procedural legal rights of persons regulated by the executive branch agencies of Florida government.

Florida Environmental Law

The course will explore a range of technical issues, legal issues, and policy questions relating to environmental law and regulation in the State of Florida. Students are expected to learn how to apply legal reasoning and research methods to determine obligations under various Florida environmental statutes and rules; to gain familiarity with case law and case studies interpreting Florida Statutes Chapters 373 (Water Resources) and 403 (Environmental Control); to gain technical knowledge relating to the geology, meteorology, and ecosystems of Florida; and explore a range of specific topics including surface water and wetlands regulation, environmental resource permitting, mitigation assessment and banking, minimum flows and levels, total maximum daily loads, consumptive use permitting, groundwater protection, sovereign lands, and coastal construction permitting.

Florida Environmental Permitting

This course will provide an overview of environmental regulatory programs in Florida. While the course will broadly cover environmental permitting across a variety of media, we will focus our attention on a case study: the permitting requirements that would typically be associated with greenfield construction.  We will examine the substantive permitting requirements, explore the types of issues that might complicate the process, and discuss how public involvement can shape the outcome. Students will be introduced to the Florida Administrative Procedure Act through the vehicle of a mock permit challenge.  While federal permitting will be incorporated, the primary focus will be on Florida permitting.  The course will be useful for students interested in careers in environmental law, administrative law, land use planning, real estate development, and state government.

Land Use Law

This course addresses legal and regulatory issues that arise during the process of developing land. It focuses on Florida but also addresses issues from other states. Students learn about the processes that landowners and developers follow to obtain local or state government approval for a project, such as applying for revisions to comprehensive plans, re-zonings, development orders, special use permits, variances, subdivision approvals, and development agreements. Students also learn how state and local governments—again, with a focus on Florida—regulate land use and review land use and development applications. The course also addresses resource-based issues associated with land development, including historic, cultural, and natural resources. Finally, students learn about private land use controls, such as covenants, conditions, and restrictions, used to further regulate projects and build and preserve property values.

Natural Resources Law

This is a survey course of federal and state laws pertaining to the use and governance of natural resources, such as water, wetlands, forests, rangeland, wildlife, and energy resources. As opposed to Environmental Law (which is a complement to this course), Natural Resources Law deals with the exploitation of resources, rather than the pollution of them, and as such, contemplates a vastly different system of laws and regulations. This course briefly explores some simple ecological and economic concepts, and how some federal and state laws reflect these concepts. Prominent in this course is the concept of natural resource planning, the primary means by which federal and state governments make decisions about the exploitation of resources.

Natural Resources Law & Policy Seminar

This course provides an introduction to federal natural resources law, with an emphasis on living resources. In a mixed seminar format, we’ll survey the legal treatment of wildlife and biodiversity, fisheries and marine resources, water resources, forests and rangelands, protected public lands, multiple use public lands, and energy (as time allows). We’ll draw lessons from these fields to understand the themes and conflicts of environmental management generally, and the unique qualities of natural resources that render management efforts so difficult. Throughout the course, we will probe the interplay between environmental, economic, cultural, and political factors that complicate natural resource decision-making—especially in a resource rich state like Florida, where each of the surveyed resources plays a foundational role.

In the final weeks of the course, students will present their own research projects, each culminating in a final paper. Students will also participate in a weekly online discussion group. Our materials of study will include but not be limited to judicial materials; we will also study natural resource law problems, case studies, statutes and implementing regulations, and other means of probing contemporary natural resource dilemmas. Our goal is to educate you not only about the statutes and cases, but also the underlying problems that each are struggling to resolve, in order to best equip you to participate in this process in all legal contexts. This course counts toward the Upper Level Writing Requirement and the Environmental Certificate, but non-certificate students and those new to environmental law are also very welcome in the class. 

Oil and Gas Law

This course will explore the law that applies to extracting and transporting oil and gas resources in the United States. The first several days of the course will describe the process of locating minerals underground and drilling and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and oil, as these processes and technical terms for these processes will arise in many of the cases that we will explore. After students have a basic understanding of the oil and gas development process, we will address the many types of law that apply to oil and gas extraction and transportation, including public law regulations and statutes as well as common law property, contract, and tort, among other laws. Using recent cases, we will explore who owns minerals and in what form; how mineral owners commonly “lease” minerals to energy companies and obtain bonuses, royalties and other payments in return; disputes that arise between mineral lessors and lessees over royalty payments and other lease issues; disputes between those who own minerals and those who own the surface; and environmental and social issues that arise during the drilling process and the lease terms and regulations that address these issues. We will also address recent court decisions that address state preemption of local oil and gas regulation. Finally, we will spend several days exploring the regulation of natural gas and oil pipelines, including the construction, siting, and operation of pipelines, and we will briefly touch upon export policies.

Practical Skills in Land Use

Pre/Co-requisites: Land Use Regulation

This course is offered in tandem with Land Use Regulation. Students in this course will apply the doctrine they learn in Land Use Regulation to a realistic, hypothetical master-planned community located in coastal Florida, in order to consider how multiple regulatory programs are applied to a single project. Students will learn how to analyze a broad range of issues that can arise during the approval process for a complex project in Florida and how to work with clients, regulators, and stakeholders in the community. Practical exercises will include writing a strategy memorandum to the developer who is seeking land use approval for the new community, review a transportation analysis prepared for this project, consider ethical issues for lawyers representing developers and regulators, and gain experience with other practical aspects of this specialized practice in Florida.

Real Estate Finance

This course is designed to train students to analyze complex commercial real estate transactions. It is interdisciplinary within law, attempting to integrate topics including basic mortgage law, usury law, subordination agreements, mechanics lien law, selected uniform commercial code issues, choice of business entity, federal and state securities law and, importantly, federal income tax law. Condominia and cooperatives are discussed as security devices. The federal income tax coverage concentrates on a handful of issues fundamental to commercial real estate transactions, especially the tax treatment of indebtedness and tax aspects of leasing arrangements, including synthetic lease transactions.

State & Local Government

The powers, limitations, and special legal rules concerning state and local governments are studied.

Topics in Environmental & Natural Resources Law

This three-credit course provides an introduction to federal natural resources law, with an emphasis on living resources.  In a mixed lecture and seminar format, we will examine the themes and theoretical conflicts that underlie natural resource management, as well as the special qualities of natural resource problems that render management efforts so difficult.  Throughout the course, we will probe the interplay between environmental, economic, cultural, and political factors in natural resource decision-making. 

In the early weeks of the course, we will explore the regulatory tools and challenges that are common to all natural resource dilemmas.  We’ll then apply these concepts in a partial survey of the field, including the legal treatment of wildlife and biodiversity, fisheries and marine resources, water resources, forests and rangelands, protected public lands, multiple use public lands, and (as time allows) energy.  In the final weeks of the course, students will present their own research projects, each culminating in a final paper.  Students will also participate in a weekly online discussion group. 

This course counts toward the upper-level writing and Environmental Certificate requirements, but non-certificate students and those new to environmental law are also very welcome in the class. 

Water Resources Law and Policy

This course provides an introduction to Water Law and Policy, a subject of great import to practitioners of environmental law, property law, international law, and other fields that contend with the allocation of scarce water resources among competing human, economic, and environmental needs.  Water management is especially important in Florida, which lies over the largest freshwater aquifer in the world, and Florida has become a leader in modern regulatory approaches.  The course explores the mechanics of water governance and how it has confronted the tensions between public and private rights in common pool resources and between the rule of law and legal instrumentalism.  Water Law continues to grapple with unforeseeable changes in technology, societal needs, and scientific understanding, each forcing questions about the degree to which law should, must, and/or can adapt to new circumstances.

The first half of the course will cover the major doctrines of private water allocation in the eastern and western United States—riparian rights, prior appropriations, and hybrid permit systems.  The second half of the course will explore special topics that intersect with Water Law, including groundwater, constitutional takings, the public trust doctrine, federal reserved rights, interstate and international disputes, water institutions, and Florida water governance.  To experience these issues in living color, the class will take a mid-semester field trip to a regional site of Water Law interest.  This course will be useful for students interested in careers in environmental law, land use law, urban planning, real estate development, agricultural and food law, and municipal and state government.  The course may be used to count toward the Upper-Level Writing Requirement and Environmental Certificate, but other students are also very welcome in the class.

Course Tracks

 
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The following are five possible areas of practice emphasis, along with suggested courses that may be taken by students interested in these various areas. These courses are in addition to (1) Environmental Law, (2) Administrative Law, and either (3) Natural Resources Law & Policy Seminar, Natural Resources Law or Land Use Regulation, which are required for students seeking the Environmental Law Certificate. See above for descriptions of the following courses.

Energy Law

  • Climate Change Law Policy and Science
  • Energy Law and Policy
  • Natural Resources Law
    or
    Natural Resources Law and Policy Seminar
  • Oil and Gas Law

Land Use Law

  • Climate Change Law Policy and Science
  • Current Issues in Environmental Law & Policy Seminar
  • Florida Administrative Law
  • Florida Environmental Law
  • Practical Skills in Land Use
  • Real Estate Finance
  • Water Resources Law and Policy

Natural Resources Law

  • Current Issues in Environmental Law & Policy Seminar
  • Energy Law and Policy
  • Natural Resources Law
    or
    Natural Resources Law and Policy Seminar
  • Ocean and Coastal Law
  • Water Resources Law and Policy

Federal Law

  • Climate Change Law Policy and Science
  • Current Issues in Environmental Law & Policy Seminar
  • Energy Law and Policy
    or
    Oil and Gas Law
    or
    Ocean and Coastal Law
  • Natural Resources Law
    or
    Natural Resources Law and Policy Seminar

Florida Law

  • Florida Administrative Law​
  • Florida Environmental Law
  • Ocean and Coastal Law
  • Practical Skills in Land Use
  • Water Resources Law and Policy