Law Academy Course 108

Environmental Law

Course 108

The goal of Course 108 is to provide an overview of environmental law, principally at the federal level. The course begins with a brief overview of the purpose of environmental law and regulation, and the interplay of federal, state and local laws. The course explains environmental law practice before the relevant agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, including the rulemaking process and citizen suits, the appeals process, and enforcement and litigation. Our faculty will then provide an overview of the key federal environmental laws and their impact on the energy industry; the laws addressed will cover the major statutes (National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, etc.), and for each we will address who regulates, who is regulated, what is regulated, and how it is regulated. Finally, we will address environmental law considerations in project development, system operations, and energy transactions (in particular, how environmental law factors into transaction due diligence).

This course is intended for new energy lawyers practicing environmental law and energy transaction lawyers who need an overview of environmental laws and regulations.

Energy Law Academy Certificate of Achievement: Three Electives from Course 106, 107, 108, 109, or 110 are required to obtain the Energy Law Academy Certificate of Achievement.


Overview of Environmental Law


  • Protect
  • Conserve
  • Improve

Interplay of Local, State and Federal Law

  • Hierarchy (EPA vs. state regulation)
  • Implementing laws v. parallel obligations

Agency Practice

Rulemaking, Including “Sue and Settle”

  • Procedural requirements
  • APA, other laws (e.g. RegFlex
  • Regulatory Evaluation, especially estimates of environmental costs/benefits– including used of surveys or other instruments to estimate public’s “willingness to ”
  • Data Quality Act
  • Guidance, Q&As, FAQs, Regulatory Interpretations
  • “Significant Guidance” subject to OMB’s bulletin on “Agency Good Guidance Practices”

Appeals / Litigation


  • EPA
  • Army Corps of Engineers (CWA 404)
  • Others

Enforcement / Penalties

  • Citizen suits
  • EPA enforcement
  • Penalties

Overview of Key Federal & State Environmental Laws & Impact on Energy Industry

Overview of Key Federal & State Environmental Laws & Impact on Energy Industry

For each major statute, our faculty will address: (i) who regulates, (ii) who is regulated, (iii) what is regulated, and (iv) how it is regulated.

  • NEPA
  • CAA
  • CWA
  • Oil Pollution Act (SPCC)
  • RCRA
  • ESA
  • TSCA (PCBs)
  • DOT (HazMat)
  • Migratory Bird Protection Act
  • Bald & Golden Eagle Protection Act

Practical Considerations in the Intersection of Environmental Laws and Energy

Project Development

  • Permitting, generally
  • Individual v Public engagement – required and voluntary
  • Environmental review - Listed species and Environmental Justice

System Operations

  • Compliance, generally
  • Environmental management systems
  • Incident reporting/response

Transactional Considerations

  • Permitting (current air, water and waste permits)
  • Liability exposure (contamination/compliance)
  • Operational constraints (existing/future)
  • Common deal mitigants
  • Current and future air, water and waste regulations
  • Any outstanding NOVs, enforcement actions or consent decrees
  • Any actual or potential third-party contamination claims