New Energy Law Course

The University of Richmond will be offering a new course titled, “The Law of Clean and Renewable Energy” in Spring 2013. The course will highlight the growing field and review federal and state mandates for renewables. It contains a transactional component – and an introduction to the skills required of a lawyer practicing Energy Law.

Check out some reading related to the University of Richmond’s newest Energy Law course:

The wind energy potential off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina is significant – but tapping into it will require state and federal commitment to clean energy. With the 2013 General Assembly Session upon us, let your representatives know that clean and renewable energy is good for jobs and the environment!

RELS Environmental Law Career Panel

On October 23rd, RELS will co-host – with the Career Development Office – “Careers in Environmental Law: A Panel with Practitioners in Private Practice, Public Interest, and Government.”  The panel will run from Noon – 1pm  in the University of Richmond School of Law Moot Courtroom and will provide tips for the job search and opportunities for questions and discussion.

Please RSVP by emailing Ryan Murphy at or sign up at carrel 230 in the law school library.

Election 2012: Facing Off on Energy and the Environment

RELS is proud to co-sponsor – with the Merhige Center – Election 2012: Facing Off on Energy and the Environment.  The forum will feature Kenneth Berlin (Obama-Biden 2012) and Jeff Holmstead (Romney-Ryan 2012). The forum will be held on Wednesday, October 10th in the Moot Court Room from Noon – 1pm. Admission is free!

Sustainability Book Club

Join the Sustainability Book Club on Thursday, October 11, at 12:30 p.m. in the Original Westhampton Deanery Living Room to discuss “Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment” by Sandra Steingraber. All faculty, staff, and students are welcome. Copies of the book are available through the library.

“In this compelling book, Steingraber uses her experience as a poet, a biologist, and a cancer survivor to lay out a persuasive case for the linkage between cancer and environmental toxins. Weaving scientific investigation with her own family’s history, she shows how the increased incidence of cancer in the rural areas of her native Illinois (and in similar communities nationwide) has gone hand-in-hand with increased levels of human-caused poisons in the environment.” – SciTech Book News, June 2010

November’s club meeting will discuss “Tomatoland” by Barry Eastbrook – available through the University libraries.

“In fast-moving, tautly narrated scenes, Barry Estabrook tells the startling story of labor conditions that should not exist in this country or this century, and makes sure you won’t look at a supermarket or fast-food tomato the same way again. But he also gives hope for a better future–and a better tomato. Anyone who cares about social justice should read Tomatoland. Also anyone who cares about finding a good tomato you can feel good about eating.” –Corby Kummer, senior editor at The Atlantic and author of The Pleasures of Slow Food

” `Tomatoland’ (is) in the tradition of the best muckraking journalism, from Upton Sinclair’s `The Jungle’ to Eric Schlosser’s `Fast Food Nation.’ ” —-Jane Black, The Washington Post

RELS Social and Information Meeting

On Wednesday, September 12th, the RELS Board will be hosting a social (catered by Jason’s Deli) and informational session in the Law School Commons from 4:00-6:00pm.  This school year, RELS will be hosting a discussion on climate change, a career panel, and is planning a survey of 2013 General Assembly bills that could have environmental impact.

Stop by – grab a snack – and learn how to get involved!

Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Conference

The University of Richmond will be hosting the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Enforcement Division’s Annual Conference.  This year’s topic is “Improving Cooperative Relationships to Advance Environmental Compliance and Enforcement.”   The conference will be held from October 17-18, 2012.  Additional information can be found under the Events tab and at the Merhige Center website.


D.C. Circuit Invalidates EPA “Transport Rule”

In a 2-1 opinion authored by Judge Kavanaugh (bio here), the D.C. Circuit invalidated an EPA rule – the “Transport Rule” – providing for implementation and enforcement of the Clean Air Act’s “Good Neighbor Provision.”

EME Homer Generation, L.P. v. EPA Opinion

The final Transport Rule can be found at 76 Fed. Reg. 48,208 (Aug. 8, 2011).

The statutory “Good Neighbor Provision” can be found in Section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) of the Clean Air Act.  42 U.S.C. 7410(a)(2)(D)(i)(I).

Judge Rogers (bio here) authored a dissenting opinion.


“Stuff You Should Know” Podcast

A “Stuff You Should Know” Podcast about Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining has been added under the “News and Commentary” page.  Deemed the “Appalachian Apocolypse,” the method unearths the coal seams by blasting away the mountain – or the “overburden” in industry parlance.  Below is a link to a 2009 Washington Post op-ed written by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr about the practice.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., “Obama Should Stop Mountaintop Removal.”  Washington Post July 3, 2009, available at

39th Annual Natural Areas Conference

The 39th Annual Natural Areas Conference – devoted to the conservation of natural areas – will be hosted by the Natural Areas Association and co-hosted by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the National Association of Exotic Pest Plant Controls. The conference is in Norfolk, VA from October 9 – October 12.  For more information visit


Welcome to the University of Richmond Environmental Law Society’s new site.  We are dedicated to learning about and raising public awareness to environmental issues and the body of law that has developed to mitigate the impact of human activity on the environment.  Environmental law is a broad field and many fields that are not environmental per se integrate and impact environmental policy.  Related bodies of law include land use and planning law, energy law, and animal law.

RELS and the Merhige Center will host events with speakers, social activities, and fundraisers for local environmental organizations throughout the year.  Please visit the site frequently as we follow developing issues impacting Virginia and the region.