The Environmental Law Clinic completed another successful and productive year working with a variety of community partners and with two new leaders at the helm, Adjunct Professors Megan J. Houdeshel and Steven G. Jones. After a several-year hiatus, students were once again placed with the Environmental Division of the Utah Attorney General’s office, allowing them to be work on a number of significant matters for the State of Utah, including: the Gold King Mine breach that caused tailing waters to flow into and contaminate the Animus River and then subsequently Utah’s San Juan River; and the development of the State’s PM2.5 State Implementation Plan under the Clean Air Act. Students also had the opportunity to work on the federal side of the table at the Federal Solicitor’s Office, working on a variety of projects from Bureau of Reclamation issues to RS 2477 roadless rule issues. Finally, students were placed with a number of non-profit organizations, including Western Resource Advocates and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and were involved in drafting requests for agency action to compel the agencies to take enforcement action and/or deny permit applications or enforce NEPA obligations.
Professor Jones gave the students the opportunity to learn first-hand about the legal implications and remedies for the Red Butte Oil spill that occurred in 2013. Having been legal counsel for Chevron during the remediation and resolution of that issue gave Professor Jones a unique perspective to share with the students. Additionally, Professor Houdeshel was able to give the students insights into the myriad of environmental issues that arise in real property transactions and in permitting processes. These are just some of the many practical experiences that Professors Jones and Houdeshel are able to share with the students to give them an idea of how the complicated web of environmental statutes and regulations are implemented in the “real world.” The Stegner Center looks forward to another year with ever expanding opportunities for our environmental law students.