Students in the Environmental Clinic work with underserved communities throughout Texas to advocate for solutions to today’s pressing environmental problems, including environmental injustice and climate change. Students develop creative legal solutions to protect and improve environmental quality and public health. They also gain practical experience with factual investigation and analysis, client counseling and community education, administrative research and advocacy before regulatory agencies, and legal drafting and litigation support.
The Environmental Clinic’s clients include individuals, neighborhood associations, nonprofits and local governments. We frequently partner with Texas legal services organizations and with national environmental non-governmental organizations on our cases and projects.
Cases and Projects
Environmental Clinic students are working alongside the Environmental Integrity Project on a citizen suit against an East Texas wood pellet manufacturer. The manufacturer has violated its air permits and has illegally emitted hazardous air pollutants, endangering the community and environment surrounding the plant. Clinic students have been integral to the trial team and involved in researching legal issues, drafting discovery responses and motions, and participating in strategy sessions.
TCEQ, our state’s environmental regulatory arm, allows for public participation in environmental permitting and rulemaking, albeit through opaque processes. One of the many barriers Texans face in attempting to engage in environmental advocacy for themselves and their communities is the limited access to information in languages other than English. Clinic students worked with Earthjustice in representing Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (T.E.J.A.S.) and Sierra Club in a Title VI civil rights complaint and petition to TCEQ to increase the availability of language translation and interpretation services in the environmental permitting and rulemaking processes. TCEQ recently revised its rules in response to the petition to provide increased translation and interpretation services.
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Clinic students have joined a coalition, including the Vermont Law School Environmental Justice Clinic, Lone Star Legal Aid (LSLA), Conservation Law Foundation, Hastings University, and American University, working together to catalog state environmental justice laws, regulations, and policies. The research will be made available on a website and will be used to develop best practices guides to help communities advocate for stronger environmental justice laws.