Summer Spotlight: Program on Environmental and Energy Law Students Tackle Environmental Issues

June 24, 2021

Summer 2021 is already shaping up to be exciting and vibrant for students in American University Washington College of Law’s Program on Environmental and Energy Law (PEEL), who are tackling a wide array of environmental and climate challenges through internships and externships in both the DMV and around the country.

4L Russell Armstrong
4L Russell Armstrong

AUWCL’s location in Washington, DC provides our environmental students direct access to the heart of the nation’s capital, where they engage in environmental and energy law experiences, including:

  • 4L part-time student Russell Armstrong, past executive chair of PEEL’s Energy Law & Policy Society, is working at Green for All, one of the nation’s preeminent environmental justice organizations.
  • 3L Juliette Jackson — executive chair of the Native American Law Society, co-editor-in-chief of the Sustainable Development Law & Policy publication, and enrolled tribal member of the Klamath Tribes—is working on important tribal and Indian law issues for Earthjustice’s Tribal Partnerships Program.
  • 3L Logan McPherson, executive chair of PEEL’s Environmental Law Society, is clerking for the international program at the Center for Biological Diversity. 
  • 3L Maggie Horstman, co-executive chair of the Animal Law Society, is working for Lutzker & Lutzker LLP.     
  • 3L Dominique Rolle, PEEL’s inaugural summer 2021 Environmental Justice Community Lawyering Fellow and co-executive chair of the Animal Law Society, will spend the summer working with the U.S. Climate Action Network (including the Arm in Arm Network) to develop legal strategies and protections for climate activists seeking to promote change in the way the United States makes and distributes energy. 
  • 3L Bailey Nickoloff, co-editor-in-chief of PEEL’s Sustainable Development Law & Policy, is clerking at the Department of the Interior’s Solicitor’s Office in Billings, Montana.
  • 2L Mary Mullen is working in the General Counsel’s Office of American Rivers.
  • Other 2L PEEL law students are working for a wide array of institutions ranging from the D.C. Office of Planning and the Vermont Attorney General to the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW).

As Armstrong said, “my legal work this summer is focused on research that supports federal policies which promote clean energy, such as vehicle and public transit electrification, while also making sure Black, Latino and other underrepresented communities get access to the economic and environmental benefits of clean energy jobs.”

3L Juliette Jackson
3L Juliette Jackson

“It is exciting to be part of a team working on novel environmental cases for tribes,” Jackson said. “My assignments have been both challenging and rewarding because I am helping my community-at-large. Earthjustice partners with many environmental groups and communities across the country, and it has been compelling to observe the litigation and policy strategy employed collectively by these entities.”

Conservation Team Joins Law School Coalition

Further, a separate group of seven 2L law students – Meghen Sullivan, Molly Hopkins, Katie Myers, Elliot Wiley, Jaclyn Troutner, Ellen Spicer, and Carson Hicks – are part of Professor Bill Snape’s “Conservation Team.” The PEEL Conservation Team is working on number of different projects:  a conservation easement database, open government and freedom of information act issues, and rule reform on public lands to address the climate and biodiversity crises.

These Conservation Team students are also part of a coalition of law schools and non-profit organizations—including Boston University Law School, University of California - Hastings College of the Law, University of Texas at Austin Law School, Vermont Law School as well as the Conservation Law Foundation and Lone Star Legal Services—that are publishing a fifth edition report entitled, “Environmental Justice for All: A Fifty State Survey of Legislation, Policies, and Cases.” This report is a compilation of environmental justice laws and policies in the 50 states, plus DC and other territories. This initiative gives PEEL students an opportunity to co-author a report that upon completion will be freely accessible to environmental justice advocates across the nation.

These seven students have been mentored by three senior PEEL students: Rolle, McPherson, and 4L Shannon Zaret, who is executive chair of the Energy Law & Policy Society and works full time for the U.S. Department of Energy. Zaret is looking at renewable energy issues and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for PEEL this summer.

PEEL's Summer “Conservation Team.”
PEEL's Summer “Conservation Team.”

Already, Myers and Spicer have made important contributions to a federal complaint filed in U.S. Federal Court on June 2, 2021 by three public interest groups against the U.S. Development Finance Corporation under the Sunshine Act.

“Our bottom line is to find PEEL students the job opportunities that work for them. This field of law is broad, dynamic, and growing – domestically and internationally – and our students and alumni are at the forefront,” Professor Snape said. “With a new federal administration and a healthy future before us, there are no limits to what the WCL family can accomplish.”

PEEL strives to provide an education that is interdisciplinary and inclusive, in which lessons foster passion for the environment and cultivate legal excellence, cultural competency, and global awareness. The Program’s vibrant network of faculty, staff, adjuncts, and alumni are easily accessible as mentors, to equip and inspire the next generation of lawyers to identify equitable solutions to pressing environmental challenges.

For more information on PEEL, click here.