Energy, Environment and Land Use Program
Vanderbilt Law School offers an extensive curriculum and a wide range of extracurricular activities for students with an interest in energy, environmental and land use law. Environmental issues do not respect academic disciplinary boundaries, and Vanderbilt is a leader in developing interdisciplinary approaches to teaching, research and service in the areas of energy and land use regulation and environmental protection. Read the fast facts.
Vanderbilt Law School provides financial support to students who work in the summer for non-profit organizations dedicated to land conservation, environmental regulation and other focus areas. In recent years, students have worked for organizations such as the federal Environmental Protection Agency in Dallas, Texas, and Washington, D.C.; Riverkeepers in Tarrytown, New York; the Land Trust for Tennessee, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and Wildearth Guardians in Denver, Colorado.
Research Assistantships & Opportunities
Opportunities for students to serve as research assistants are available every year. In recent years, research assistants in environmental law have explored the role of law and social norms in shaping consumer behavior and the effects of legal sanctions on corporate environmental compliance.
The Climate Change Research Project at Vanderbilt, an initiative supported by Vanderbilt's Environmental Law Program, the Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and the Environment, the Vanderbilt Center for Environmental Management Studies and the Vanderbilt Center for the Study of Religion and Culture, includes teams of faculty, graduate, and professional students who are conducting theoretical and applied research on one of the most important and most widely overlooked sources of greenhouse gases: individual and household behavior.
Externships are available to law students who are interested in gaining experience-based instruction in professional skills and values. A variety of organizations provide externship opportunities, including environmental and other non-profit groups.
Environmental Law Institute Externship - An externship with the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) in Washington, D.C., is available to one Vanderbilt Law student per semester. This externship affords a remarkable opportunity to work on cutting-edge environmental law issues in Washington with ELI's talented, experienced group of environmental law and policy experts. ELI is an independent, non-partisan, environmental education and policy research center that has played a pivotal role in shaping the fields of environmental law, policy and management, both domestically and abroad, for the past 30 years.The extern shares time between ELI's Research/Policy and Publications divisions, working directly with staff attorneys on projects involving domestic and international environmental and natural resource protection law. The extern also works on an annual conference convened by Vanderbilt Law School and ELI that brings together academics, practitioners and policy-makers to explore the best environmental law and policy ideas from the academy and their potential application in the policy arena. In addition, the extern plays an important role in editing and producing Environmental Law Institute academic publications and has other opportunities to gain valuable practical experience.
The student Environmental Law Society organizes service projects and sponsors symposia on topics of importance to leaders in law, government, business and the academy.
Students edit and publish The Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review, a joint publication with the Environmental Law Institute that publishes scholarly articles presenting the best legal and policy solutions to pressing environmental problems. Working on the review affords students the opportunity to screen the environmental articles in law journals to identify the best ideas and to publish a one-issue student-edited volume each year, as well as to participate in an environmental law symposium in Washington, D.C.
Vanderbilt Law graduates serve in a wide range of environmental law and policy positions in private law firms, corporations, government agencies, public interest groups and other organizations. The Career Services Office provides special assistance to students interested in government and other public interest careers in environmental law in addition to coordinating on-campus interviews with hundreds of private employers.
Vanderbilt also offers a Loan Repayment Assistance Program to provide partial repayment of law school loans to students who work in public interest positions in a wide range of fields, including environmental law. Vanderbilt graduates have received LRAP assistance while working for government agencies, legal aid organizations and other non-profit organizations.
TVA privatization might benefit consumers, says Jim Rossi, professor of law
If the Tennessee Valley Authority goes private, utility customers could benefit if risks and incentives are better aligned than under the current approach, according to a Vanderbilt law professor. The prospect of selling off the public utility has been raised by the Obama administration in a call for a strategic review.
“Ultimately, whether consumers are better off or see their rates increase, which TVA maintains would happen, would depend on state regulators and what happens within individual states,” said Jim Rossi, professor of law, who specializes in state and local utility regulation, energy policy and administrative law. “But there is definitely a scenario where consumers could be better off if private ownership better aligns risks and incentives than the current approach.” Keep reading...
News & Events
A peer-reviewed process has selected articles by J.B. Ruhl, and Kevin Stack and Michael Vandenbergh as among the six best law review articles in the field of environmental law published in 2011-12. The articles will be reprinted in the Land Use and Environment Law Review. The articles are:
- Dave Markell and J.B. Ruhl, "An Empirical Assessment of Climate Change in the Courts: a New Jurisprudence or Business as Usual?," 64 Florida Law Review 15-86 (2012).
- Kevin M. Stack and Michael P. Vandenbergh, "The One Percent Problem," 111 Columbia Law Review 1385 (2011)
Michael Vandenbergh selected as University of North Carolina School of Law's CLEAR Scholar of the week - May 6, 2013 - UNC's Center for Law, Environment, Adaptation & Resources recognizes weekly the substantial body of academic work and scholarship on which to call in trying to solve problems in the environmental area through laws and regulations.
"Natural Gas Fracturing, Federalism Debates, and the Regulatory Divide," a talk by Professor Hannah Wiseman, Florida State University College of Law
Mar 28, 2013 from 04:00 PM to 05:30 PM
Sponsored by the Vanderbilt Energy, Environment, and Land Use Program
The Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review's Sixth Annual Conference on Capitol Hill - March 22, 2012
- David E. Adelman and Ian J. Duncan, “The Limits of Liability in Promoting Safe Geologic Sequestration of CO2,” 22 Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum 1 (2011)
- Dave Owen, “Critical Habitat and the Challenge of Regulating Small Harms,” 64 Florida Law Review 141 (2012)
- Barton H. Thompson, Jr., “A Federal Act to Promote Integrated Water Management: Is the CZMA a Useful Model?,” 42 Environmental Law 201 (2012)
"Hot Topics in Energy Law"
February 22, 2013 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM, Alexander Room
Sponsored by the Vanderbilt Energy, Environment & Land Use Program
The discussion will feature guest speaker Professor Joe Tomain, a leading energy law scholar from the University of Cincinnati, and will also include Professors Ruhl, Vandenbergh and Rossi. Seating and food are limited, so please come early.
"The Problem with Environmental Monitoring," a symposium of the Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review
February 18, 2013 from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM
Co-sponsored by the Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review, the Vanderbilt Energy, Environment and Land Use Program, and the Environmental Law Society.