Leading the Charge for Environmental Justice

Three AUWCL Students Awarded Environmental Justice Fellowships 

Fellowship awardees, Fielding Burnette, Robbie Gordon, and David Kimelman will receive stipends of up to $3,000. They will also benefit from professional development assistance and networking opportunities.   

Three American University Washington College of Law students received the 2024 Program on Environmental and Energy Law (PEEL) Environmental Justice Fellowship.  

Fellowship awardees, David Kimelman, Robbie Gordon, and Fielding Burnette will receive stipends of up to $3,000. They will also benefit from professional development assistance and networking opportunities.   

Kimelman, a rising 3L, will be working at the Southern Environmental Law Center’s (SELC) office in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His efforts will focus on environmental justice in support of marginalized communities across the South. Last summer, Kimelman dedicated his time to the Land, Groundwater, and Waste Division within the North Carolina Department of Justice Environmental Division.  

At the SELC, Kimelman will engage in research and writing to support ongoing litigation on various issues, including clean air and water, clean energy, and transportation.  

Gordon, a rising 2L, is assisting Walker Law LLC in representing Tribal and individual clients in state and federal matters, with a focus on Tribal energy development and environmental law. In this role, he will contribute to the firm’s legal advocacy efforts to advance Tribal transportation and infrastructure funding, energy projects, broadband network development regulations, lands-to-trust applications, and federal Administrative Procedure Act claims.  

Burnette, a rising 4L in the International Dual-Degree Program between AUWCL and Université Paris Nanterre, will complete two internships in Paris this summer. His first internship is at the Centre International du Droit Comparé de l'Environnement, an international NGO that brings together environmental lawyers from around the world to assist in the negotiation and development of international environmental treaties. In this role, he will represent civil society at international environmental treaty meetings under the auspices of the United Nations, advocating for equitable policy development and a right to a healthy environment.  

Fielding’s second internship is with Réseau Sortir du Nucléaire, where he will focus on the safe transfer and disposal of nuclear waste under international and European law. T his work is crucial to ensuring that the environmental burdens of nuclear energy do not disproportionately affect marginalized communities and in addressing the exploitation of vulnerable communities by multinational corporations. Fielding will also apply corporate accountability techniques developed through research with Professor David Hunter and studies at Université Paris Nanterre. He selected this internship to engage in corporate accountability litigation, seeking justice for those harmed by insufficient environmental protections and corporate legal immunities.  

Since 2019, PEEL has directed a portion of its donations to support valuable opportunities for students, allowing them to engage in impactful study and work related to environmental justice. The initiative’s primary mission is to inspire the next generation of AUWCL community lawyers to actively identify and address equitable solutions to critical environmental challenges that disproportionately affect low-income and communities of color.

~ Story by Liz Newton.