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Stegner Center Green Bag – Cliff Villa

March 2 @ 12:15 pm - 1:15 pm

A Wallace Stegner Center Green Bag

The Gold King Mine Spill:  Environmental Law and Liability

12:15-1:15 p.m., S.J. Quinney College of Law Moot Courtroom (Level 6)
After grabbing headlines across the country in 2015, the Gold King Mine spill receded from the public eye but has remained the subject of significant policy questions as well as active litigation.  This presentation will share the results of research into many of these questions, in support of an article published in the current issue of the Utah Law Review. The first part of this Article attempts to explain what really happened with the Gold King Mine spill, both the causes of the spill and the response to it. The Article then considers a number of federal environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), in order to assess alleged violations and demonstrate some of the important legal protections available to parties who engage in the challenging work of responding to mining contamination in the United States. The Article concludes with a look at protections for individual responders and hopes for cooperative efforts to address the mining contamination in the Animas River watershed and other contaminated mine sites across the country.

1 hour of CLE (pending). Lunch provided.
No registration required. Free and open to the public.

Watch this event on the S.J. Quinney College of Law YouTube channel »

Cliff Villa, Associate Professor of Law, The University of New Mexico School of Law
Professor Cliff Villa of the University of New Mexico School of Law teaches and writes in the fields of constitutional rights, environmental law, and environmental justice.  Prior to joining the UNM law faculty in 2015, Cliff served for 22 years as legal counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, first with EPA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and later with EPA Regional offices in Denver and Seattle.  As an EPA attorney, Cliff’s practice focused on cleanup of contaminated sites and enforcement of federal laws such as the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.  Cliff also served for eight years as on-call legal counsel for the EPA Region 10 Emergency Response Team, providing direct legal support for federal response to natural disasters and other major incidents such as the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010.  Cliff is a co-author of a published textbook, A Practical Introduction to Environmental Law (2017), and the forthcoming Environmental Justice:  Law, Policy, and Regulation (3rd ed. 2019).  His latest article is Gold King Mine Spill:  Environmental Law and Legal Protections for Environmental Responders, 2019 Utah L. Rev. 263 (2019). Born and raised in Albuquerque, Cliff graduated summa cum laude from the University of New Mexico and received his J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.


This event is sponsored by RMMLF and the University Credit Union.





For questions about this event contact Spencer (801) 587-0391.

Paid parking is available at the Rice-Eccles Stadium using the pay-by-phone app. We encourage you to use public transportation to our events. Take TRAX University line to the Stadium stop and walk a half block north. For other public transit options use UTA’s Trip Planner. The law school is on the Red Route for the University’s free campus shuttles (College of Law stop).


March 2
12:15 pm - 1:15 pm
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College of Law
801-585-3440 | 801-585-3479


S. J. Quinney College of Law
383 South University St
Salt Lake City, UT 84112 United States
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