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Illegal Permit? Who Are You Goint to Call? Your Local Environmental Law Clinic!

November 2009

Citation: ELR 11051

Author: Adam Babich

Law school operated environmental law clinics--in addition to training students--can serve a vital function by expanding the public's participation in environmental decisionmaking beyond the national precedent-setting cases typically litigated by public-interest law firms. such clinics can help individuals and grass roots organizations participate in the regulatory process on a persistent, decision-bydecision basis. Considered individually, most cases that such clinics handle may be of local, rather than national, importance. Cumulatively, however, with law school clinics scattered across the country, the effect may be analogous to water dripping on a stone, slowly wearing down barriers to a more sustainable relationship between industrial facilities and surrounding communities and eco-systems.

A central element of modern environmental law is public participation. empowered by citizen enforcement and judicial review provisions, citizen organizations have helped spark, shape, and police implementation of environmental statutes. The law's emphasis on public participation can give members of the public a voice in the decisions of unelected bureaucracies that can otherwise tend to stall or drift from congressionally authorized purposes.

Adam Babich directs the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic and is a professor of law at Tulane Law School. Thanks to Blake S. Mogabgab and Matthew G. Altaras for their research assistance.

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