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Environmental Law Clinic Fall 2019 Updates & Faculty Highlights

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Sturm College of Law

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During the 2018-2019 academic year and over the summer, the Environmental Law Clinic (ELC) represented communities on the front lines of the pressing matters facing Colorado’s communities and special places, including oil & gas development, water scarcity, and air pollution. Two ELC students were the first students to ever argue cases before the Colorado Court of Appeals, arguing two appeals on behalf of Colorado communities challenging permits authorizing industrial-scale oil & gas developments near their homes and schools. Other ELC students and faculty worked closely with community partners on recent legislative efforts, including testifying before the General Assembly on major legislation regarding oil & gas reform and carbon emission reductions. Also, ELC faculty members contributed to amicus briefs in important water rights and Clean Water Act cases before the Tenth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court, respectively.

The ELC began the 2019-2020 academic year with its annual camping trip near Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Reservoir (picture below). The trip included a client meeting and tour of the area reservoir system that is at the center of an ELC lawsuit challenging two federal agencies’ approval of a water diversion project. Clinic students continue to work on oil & gas development matters, including briefing on a petition and cross-petition for certiorari to the Colorado Supreme Court and overseeing additional permit challenges while other student teams are working with communities to guard against water and air pollution and to increase protection of sensitive wildlife and plant species.

environmental law clinic


Environmental Law Clinic Faculty Highlights

Associate Professor Kevin Lynch


“Fracking the Public Trust,” 10 San Diego J. Climate & Energy Law 69 (2019). SSRN 


Fracking the Public Trust, Leslie K. McAllister Symposium on Energy and Climate, University of San Diego School of Law, San Diego, CA. (November 2018).

Panel (moderator), "COGCC v Martinez - What's Next?," with State Sen. Mike Foote, Attorney Kate Merlin, and Community Activist Patricia Nelson, Denver, CO. (February 2019).

Testimony, "SB 19-181 - Fiscal Impacts of Leaving Oil and Gas in the Ground," Colorado Senate Finance Committee, Denver, CO. (March 2019).

Testimony, "SB 19-181 - Definition of Waste," Colorado Senate Transportation and Energy Hearing,

Denver, CO. (March 2019).

"Takings Primer and Regulation of Oil and Gas," Colorado Bar Association - Civil Rights Section (with Richard Collins), Denver, CO. (March 2019).

Presenter, "Forced Pooling as Private Eminent Domain," Association of Law Property and Society,

Syracuse, New York (May 2019).

Assistant Professor Wyatt Sassman


How Circuits Can Fix Their Splits, 103 Marq. L. Rev. __ (2019) (forthcoming).

Introducing the Tenth Circuit Data Project, 97 Denv. L. Rev. __ (2019) (forthcoming).

Judicial Citation

Dep’t for Medicaid Servs. v. Sexton, 566 S.W.3d 185, 193-94 (Ky. 2018) (quoting Wyatt Sassman, A Survey of Constitutional Standing in State Courts, 8 Ky. J. Equine, Agric. & Nat. Resources L. 349, 369-70 (2016)).

Clinical Fellow Sarah Matsumoto


Panelist, “Recent Lawsuits that Relate to Establishing a Right to a Stable Climate System,” University of Denver International Law Society Meeting, Sturm College of Law (November 8, 2018).


Citizens of Washington State Work to Fill Gaps in Regulation of Surface and Groundwater Pollution from CAFOs, 33-SPR Nat. Resources & Env’t 26 (2019).