The Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic offers students an opportunity to do real-life and real-time legal and policy work. Clinic offerings include local, national and international projects covering the spectrum of environmental issues. Depending on the project, students may undertake litigation and advocacy work by drafting briefs, preparing testimony, conducting research, developing strategy, and reviewing proposed legislation.
Some students work off-campus with government agencies and nonprofit organizations, while others work on-campus on cutting-edge projects and case work under the supervision of Clinical Professor Wendy Jacobs, Senior Clinical Instructor Shaun Goho, and Clinical Instructor Aladdine Joroff.
2015-16 Clinic Projects
Behavior and the Law: Clinic students are working to develop innovative strategies for shifting the American public’s perception of and response to climate change to a more engaged and proactive position. This year, the Clinic will begin working with Harvard’s Divinity School to brainstorm a pilot project for teaching Divinity students about climate change, and will develop innovative strategies for integrating consideration of moral arguments compelling action to redress climate change into legal arguments asserted in climate change public nuisance suits.
Green Infrastructure: In this ongoing partnership, Clinic students and the HLS Environmental Policy Initiative have been looking to identify and propose ways to align local codes and policies to enable and encourage green infrastructure in municipalities, particularly with regard to regional stormwater and waste water management. This year, Clinic students will work with the Policy Initiative and the Zofnass Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design to identify and propose legal and policy options for overcoming barriers to green infrastructure to a coalition of Rhode Island state and local agencies, infrastructure developers, and the landscaping industry.
Energy Justice: The Clinic will help the City of Boston identify “energy justice” issues that could be implicated by several ongoing or upcoming policy initiatives and utility proceedings that will influence the future structure of the electrical energy system in Massachusetts. Clinic students will have the opportunity to evaluate concerns that have been raised about energy justice issues and identify potential energy justice consequences of actions such as integrating renewable energy into the electric grid and utilizing smart metering technologies. This project will build on previous work the Clinic has performed for the City of Boston involving climate change adaptation, building energy performance benchmarking, microgrids, and district energy.
Electric Distribution Systems: The Clinic is working with the Environmental Defense Fund (“EDF”) to evaluate and respond to proposed changes in the regulatory/ratemaking paradigm governing electric utility companies in New York State. New York’s flagship proceeding to develop and adopt regulatory changes to the electric distribution system, known as the “Reforming the Energy Vision” (“REV”) proceeding, is “consider[ing] a substantial transformation of electric utility practices to improve system efficiency, empower customer choice, and encourage greater penetration of clean generation and efficiency technologies.” Clinic students will assist in the drafting of comments to help ensure that the REV proceeding achieves the State’s environmental goals.
Reducing Harvard University’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Clinic is working with Harvard University’s Office of Sustainability on their ongoing efforts to reduce the University’s greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions. Clinic students will be working on analyzing whether existing laws constrain Harvard’s ability to fund off-campus emission reduction projects and the extent to which off-campus projects need to be “additional” in order to be counted as part of Harvard’s GHG emission reductions. In addition, clinic students will support an ongoing effort by the Office of Sustainability and the Clinic to align incentives to conserve energy among researchers, universities, and the federal government.
Climate Migration: The Clinic is collaborating with the Harvard International Human Rights Clinic and the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program to organize a conference on climate change, human rights, and migration, tentatively planned for Fall 2016. Students will have the opportunity to conduct background research on the themes that the conference will focus on, as well as assist with coordination efforts.
How to Register
The Environmental Law and Policy Clinic is offered in the Fall and Spring semester through the Helios preferencing process. The clinics is also offered in the Winter term on a By-Application basis. You can learn about the required clinical course component, additional requirements and requisites, as well as the clinical registration process, by reading the course catalog description and exploring the links in this section.
In the News
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Clinic Submits Comments in Massachusetts Grid Modernization Proceedings and Electric Rate CaseContinue Reading about Clinic Submits Comments in Massachusetts Grid Modernization Proceedings and Electric Rate Case
In April 2016, the Clinic submitted comments to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (“DPU”) in grid modernization proceedings and an electric rate case. The Clinic asked DPU to apply a holistic energy justice perspective to decisions affecting electricity rates and the integration of, and access to, innovative technologies to the electric grid. The Clinic also proposed mechanisms to support the development of virtual power plants, which can help meet the Commonwealth’s energy and environmental goals.
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Clinic and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Release Fisheries Co-Management PaperContinue Reading about Clinic and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Release Fisheries Co-Management Paper
The Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic, in collaboration with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), released a new report entitled Fisheries Co-Management in the United States: Incentives, Not Legal Changes, Key, which finds that legal or regulatory barriers to the co-management of fisheries are largely non-existent or easily navigated where stakeholder support exists. Co-management is a process in which both regulators and stakeholders share responsibility for managing a fishery.
Faculty and Staff
Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic
Harvard Law School
6 Everett Street
4th Floor, Suite 4119
Cambridge, MA 02138