Note to the Teacher

Citizen Enforcement of
Environmental Law


Four years ago, after almost fifteen years of teaching the introductory class in Environmental Law, I set about the task of developing a seminar entitled “Citizen Enforcement of Environmental Law.” I began with three goals. First, I wanted to provide a vehicle for exploring the fascinating device of the environmental citizen suit, in all of its practical and theoretical ramifications. Second, I wanted the students to confront the real-world documents that fill the days of many environmental attorneys: permits and permit applications, discharge monitoring reports, administrative consent orders, and EPA reporting forms. Third, I wanted to force the students to draft, revise, and critically analyze the basic documents of civil litigation: strategy memos, complaints, answers, motions to dismiss, motions for summary judgment and associated affidavits, and requests for attorneys fees.

The solution was to develop the underlying documents for four cases, presenting those documents to the students, and directing them to work in two- or three-person teams representing a citizen group plaintiff in one case and a defendant in another case. The task proved daunting, because it required the preparation of many hundreds of pages of raw materials. This web site now includes every document used in teaching the seminar.

The writing assignments are set forth in the master calendar. First drafts of written products are reviewed in separate team sessions; final drafts are discussed through oral team reports in class sessions attended by all students. At a few class sessions, motions are argued to the teacher “judge,” and the prevailing party is instructed to draft and submit any resulting order. Students are told that they must keep careful track of their billable hours, because they will eventually seek an award of attorneys fees. With the exception of strategy memos, all students are given the materials for all cases, and they exchange papers with all other students.

I have followed certain conventions in putting together this electronic version of the teaching materials. Some documents are available in HTML format, which may be read by any browser, but most the the materials are presented in PDF format, which may be read and printed with Adobe Acrobat Reader 3.0 (available at no charge on the Web). Some documents are presented in two versions—a “student” version and a “teacher” version. Documents intended for the teacher, either because they contain information deliberately hidden from the students or because they are to be to be printed and distributed to the students on a delayed basis, are locked with a password. Thus, for example, the students must struggle with 180 pages of dis-charge monitoring reports in the Hawkeye Aluminum case, to find the permit violations, just as would be true in the “real world.” The password-protected teacher’s copy of the same documents discloses all permit violations by highlighting them in color.

All other documents are to be made available to the students at the outset of the seminar. The complete list of documents and links to the documents themselves can be found in the on line Table of Contents. All documents intended for distribution have running footers and include an even number of pages, for two-sided printing.

The issues posed by the four cases are widely varied. Each case involves a different federal statute (the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act), a different citizen suit provision, and radically different violations. The defenses are also varied. The standing of the citizen group becomes a major issue only in the Roto Plate International case; the effect of an administrative consent order poses issues only in the Hawkeye Aluminum case; the civil penalty shield of the Paperwork Reduction Act appears only in the Iowa Lumber Company case; and the en-vironmental audit privilege plays a potential role only in the Iron City Drinking Water Treatment Plant case.

Teachers wishing to further explore these materials by gaining access to the locked “teacher-only” documents may request a copy of the password by email. Please provide details about who you are and where you teach, so that I may verify your right to the password.

All PDF documents are protected by a second password, which must be obtained if you wish to cut-and-paste portions of the documents or make changes in the documents to modify them for your own use. If you wish to explore the option of modifying these materials for your own class, please email me.

I hope that you find these materials to be useful in your teaching, and that you will report any comments or suggestions to me.

John-Mark Stensvaag
Iowa City, Iowa
June 27, 1998

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