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College of Law

Florida State University

 

Environmental Law Certificate

Florida State University College of Law in Tallahassee offers a terrific place to study environmental, energy and land use law. The Certificate program is designed to allow students to complete the requirements while simultaneously completing a well-rounded non-certificate curriculum as well. Upon graduation, students who successfully complete the program receive a certificate along with their J.D. degree, indicating to employers and others that they have achieved special competency in the fields of environmental, energy and land use law.

The College of Law's proximity to the center of Florida's government offers students advantages few environmental, energy and land use programs can match. Externship and pro bono opportunities with government agencies and public interest groups give students a chance to learn about the creation and implementation of environmental law from the inside. The opportunity to watch laws and policies being developed, legislated and litigated provides law students an experience that will make them both astute practitioners and better citizens. Legal educations at Florida State are further enriched by attorneys and public officials in the environmental, energy and land use areas who serve as adjunct faculty and lecturers at the law school.

Required Courses
The Certificate Program includes a required course and an elective course component. The three required courses are Environmental Law, Land Use Regulation and Administrative Law. These courses are regularly offered at the College of Law.

  • Administrative Law

    (3-4 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    A study of the legislative, executive, and judicial control of administrative action. The course includes discussion of formal and informal administrative processes, the opportunity to be heard, adequacy of notice, restrictions on the deciding body, and appellate review. 

  • Environmental Law

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    This course will introduce you to the core statutes, regulations, and common law principles that control humans’ impacts on environmental resources, including air, water, and soil. Environmental statutes are difficult to understand without context, so we will discuss the structure and interpretation of two statutes—the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act—in depth. By the end of the course, you will understand how to identify whether a stationary source is a “major” source of air pollution under the Clean Air Act and therefore requires a certain type of permit, whether a wetland into which a pollutant is discharged counts as “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (and why this matters), and many other core components of these Acts. We will also discuss the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (governing waste handling and disposal) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (governing the clean-up of hazardous waste sites), and we will briefly address the National Environmental Policy Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act as well as basic Administrative Law principles.

  • Land Use Regulation

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    This course, will address legal and regulatory issues that arise during the process of developing land in certain ways, such as for residential, retail, office or other land uses. It will focus on Florida but will also address issues from other states. Students will learn about the processes that landowners and developers follow to obtain local or state government approval for a project, such as applying for revisions to comprehensive plans, re-zonings, development orders, special use permits, variances, subdivision approvals, and development agreements. Students will also learn how state and local governments--again, with a focus on Florida--regulate land use and review land use and development applications. The course will also address resource-based issues associated with land development, including historic, cultural, and natural resources. Finally, students will learn about private land use controls, such as covenants, conditions, and restrictions, used to further regulate projects and build and preserve property values. 

Elective Courses
The following courses are approved for satisfying the program's additional elective requirement. Not all courses on the list are offered on a regular basis — you must consult the current course offering list and plan your schedule accordingly.  

  • Clean Air Act

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    Through the study of cases, agency guidance documents, scholarly writings, and current events, we will explore a range of technical issues, legal issues, and policy questions relating to air pollution control, the Clean Air Act and its amendments, and the regulatory programs and activities conducted pursuant to its many provisions. The key objective of the course is for students to attain general competence in the history, major programs, and policy considerations relating to the Clean Air Act and its implementation in the United States. Students will apply theoretical and analytical tools, acquire technical knowledge, gain familiarity with case law and case studies, and analyze topics of interest in preparation for writing an original research paper or completing a final examination at the end of the semester. 

  • Climate Change

    (3 credits)

    This course will provide an overview of the legal, economic, psychological and other interdisciplinary aspects of global climate change. This course will include a significant review of the scientific basis for climate change, and for controlling emissions and adapting to impending climate change. The course will cover international, domestic, and subnational efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. Various legal and policy tools to address climate change are examined and evaluated, such as cap-and-trade schemes; carbon taxation; traditional regulation; litigation; adaptation; and voluntary action. Various technologies and strategies are also explored: renewable energy technologies, nuclear power, forestry and agriculture. The course is an exam-based lecture course.

  • Coastal and Ocean Law

    (2-3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    This is a course that explores the state, federal and international laws governing the use and development of resources in coastal areas and the oceans. Such an exploration covers the federal and state common law, major federal statutes, international treaties, all from the perspective of the special needs of coastal areas and oceans. Prominent in this course are the ecological underpinnings of wildlife regulation, relationships between water, habitat, wildlife, and land use, and legal issues stemming from jurisdictional conflicts. For students planning to practice law in a coastal area, this course offers a useful survey of laws that may come up in a wide variety of practices, including but not limited to land use, development of energy resources, tourism and recreation, and commercial and recreational fishing.

  • Commercial Real Estate Transactions

    (2 credits)
    Prerequisite: Property and Contracts

    This commercial real estate course focuses on three key documents that are the mainstay of a transactional real estate lawyer's practice: the contract of sale, the loan, and the lease. Over the course of the semester, students will pair up to negotiate and draft each of these documents, and to role play as counsel to the purchaser or the seller for the contract of sale, the borrower or the lender for the loan, and the landlord or the tenant for the lease. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of a commercial real estate deal by conducting due diligence and analyzing key ancillary documents that are part and parcel of a commercial deal. Students interested in careers in transactional law, real estate law, corporate law, or finance will find the skills they gain in this course fungible.

  • Condominium and Community Housing Law

    (2 credits)

    The course will examine the law of Florida condominiums with emphasis on those of residential character, as well as the law of mandatory homeowners' associations, and its differences from, and similarities to, the law governing condominiums. The course will cover statutory and case components of the law; document composition and drafting for the creation of condominiums; the statutory standards for operations and governance; and dispute resolution and covenant enforcement within the community.

  • Emerging Issues in Energy Law: Renewables and Unconventional Fossil Fuels

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    This course, which has a ULWR option, will address the range of legal issues associated with unconventional fossil fuel development and the generation of electricity from renewable resources. The course will give students a basic understanding of the major steps that an attorney for a wind or solar developer has to take to have a renewable project approved, from obtaining local and/or state siting approval through signing a power purchase agreement with a utility. At the local level, at which individuals place solar panels on roofs or wind turbines in backyards, we will discuss various common law and regulatory schemes for solar and wind access as well as nuisance suits and other challenges to local energy. Moving to unconventional fossil fuels, we will explore unique regulatory and common law issues posed by hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas, including changes to local and state regulation of oil and gas development, new Bureau of Land Management regulation of hydraulic fracturing, nuisance claims relating to earthquakes caused by oil and gas wastewater wells and alleged pollution from oil and gas development, and other issues. Students in the course will have the option of either taking an exam or writing a paper to fulfill the upper-level writing requirement.

  • Energy Law and Policy

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    This course introduces students to the statutes, regulations, and common law principles that apply to all aspects of the energy system, including extracting and transporting fuels by pipeline and rail and generating, transmitting, and distributing electricity.   Specific topics that we will discuss in this course include the Keystone XL oil pipeline and disputes over the “Presidential Permit” for the pipeline; the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline proposed through Florida; siting, preemption, and nuisance issues associated with renewable energy generation; recent legal disputes over the expansion of transmission lines to carry wind energy from remote areas in the Midwest to population centers; proceedings that establish rates for customers who purchase electricity and natural gas in their homes and apartments; the construction of liquefied natural gas export terminals (including one in Florida) and coal export terminals; the regulation of transporting crude oil by rail; and restructuring of the electricity industry in the United States and abroad, among other topics. There are no prerequisites for the course.

  • Environmental Federalism

    (3 credits)

    In this seminar, we will examine federalism issues that arise in environmental law and policy from a variety of theoretical, doctrinal and practical perspectives. Some environmental contexts involve state governments competing with federal agencies for regulatory primacy or being subjected to federal policy prerogatives as a condition of federal funding. More interesting, however, are cooperative federalism regimes in which state and federal agencies work together to regulate environmental issues are a provocative snapshot of the complexity and tensions of federalism in action. We will cover some of the basics of federalism theory and theories of environmental regulation; explore some contemporary theoretical treatments of federalism incorporating economic theory, game theory, decision theory, and complexity theory, among others.  We will then apply these analytic tools to carefully and critically examine federalism-oriented environmental regulatory structures covering air and water quality, fossil fuel extraction, and other subjects.

  • Environmental Legal Research
  • Florida Administrative Litigation

    (2 credits)
    Prerequisites: Evidence

    This is a skills based course that is designed to teach students how to prepare for and try Chapter 120 administrative procedure act cases in Florida. Students will be exposed to all aspects of administrative litigation and will provide an understanding both academically, and practically of the intricacies involved with such litigation. The course will showcase the roles of attorneys, witnesses, expert witnesses, the Administrative Law Judge, and state agencies in administrative litigation. The material will be taught by lecture and example, and role playing as advocates in a mock litigation setting. Such instruction will range from, and include, conducting depositions, drafting an administrative complaint, and culminating in a mock final hearing and the drafting of a proposed recommended order.  

  • Florida Administrative Practice

    (2-3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    A study of the Florida Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and its interpretation by the courts. Major emphasis is placed on theories of delegation to administrative agencies, points of entry to obtain administrative review, and the relationship between the roles of administrative law judges, agency heads, and reviewing courts. Topics covered include the non-delegation doctrine, adjudication, non-rule policy, attorneys' fees, rule-making, rule challenges, bid protests, the statement of regulatory costs, judicial review, and formal legislative oversight. 

  • Growth Management

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    Whereas zoning and subdivision law focuses on where different land uses are permitted and under what conditions, growth management law focuses on the timing and dimensions of urban growth, particularly at the periphery of urban centers where suburban and rural land uses meet. This course provides a survey of growth management law as applied in many parts of the nation, using Florida as a policy case study. The first part of the course focuses on four major topics: urban sprawl; urban redevelopment; state and regional controls; and environmental regulation. The second segment of the course examines Florida’s growth management regime through a historical and policy lens, focusing on techniques such as concurrency, urban growth boundaries, ecological and rural land acquisition, affordable housing initiatives and impact fees. 

  • International Environmental Law

    (3 credits)
    Recommended, but not required: Public International Law

    This is a problem-oriented course focusing on issues including marine pollution, transboundary movement of hazardous waste, climate change, biodiversity, the relation of population and the environment, and other global and transboundary environmental problems. 

  • Law and Policy of Drilling and Fracturing for Fossil Fuels

    (1 credit)
    Prerequisites: None

    This course will describe the process of extracting natural gas and oil from shale and tight sands formations using the techniques of horizontal drilling and slickwater hydraulic fracturing—processes that have caused a rapid expansion of domestic oil and gas production. We will explore the potential environmental and social effects of these practices as identified through lawsuits, scientific and legal literature, and by state enforcement of regulations at hydraulically fractured well sites; the local, state, regional, and federal statutes, regulations, and/or industry standards, best management practices, and common law principles that address these effects; and the policy debates surrounding effective regulation of shale gas and oil development. This course will not satisfy the upper-level writing requirement. 

  • Local Government Law

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    The powers, limitations, and special legal rules concerning local governments are studied. Emphasis is given to Florida problems concerning counties, cities, and special districts. 

  • Natural Resources Law

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    This is a survey course of federal and state laws pertaining to the use and governance of natural resources, such as water, wetlands, forests, rangeland, wildlife, and energy resources. As opposed to Environmental Law (which is a complement to this course), Natural Resources Law deals with the exploitation of resources, rather than the pollution of them, and as such, contemplates a vastly different system of laws and regulations. This course briefly explores some simple ecological and economic concepts, and how some federal and state laws reflect these concepts. Prominent in this course is the concept of natural resource planning, the primary means by which federal and state governments make decisions about the exploitation of resources.

  • Natural Resources Law Seminar

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    This three-credit course provides an introduction to federal natural resources law, with an emphasis on living resources.  In a mixed lecture and seminar format, we will examine the themes and theoretical conflicts that underlie natural resource management, as well as the special qualities of natural resource problems that render management efforts so difficult.  Throughout the course, we will probe the interplay between environmental, economic, cultural, and political factors in natural resource decision-making. 

    In the early weeks of the course, we will explore the regulatory tools and challenges that are common to all natural resource dilemmas.  We’ll then apply these concepts in a partial survey of the field, including the legal treatment of wildlife and biodiversity, fisheries and marine resources, water resources, forests and rangelands, protected public lands, multiple use public lands, and (as time allows) energy.  In the final weeks of the course, students will present their own research projects, each culminating in a final paper.  Students will also participate in a weekly online discussion group. 

    This course counts toward the upper-level writing and Environmental Certificate requirements, but non-certificate students and those new to environmental law are also very welcome in the class. 

  • Negotiation

    (4 credits)
    Prerequisites:  None

    This course introduces the theory and practice of negotiation in a workshop setting. We will examine the basic stages of a negotiation; the major tensions at play in negotiation; distributive bargaining, value-creating, and problem-solving techniques; the management of communication and emotional elements in negotiation; power dynamics and ethics; lawyer-client relationships, and other topics as time allows. The course is designed to help students develop negotiating skills and a framework for ongoing self-learning through role-playing simulations, discussion, reading assignments, and regular journal and writing exercises. 

    Attendance and First Day Policy: The course attendance policy is unusually strict, because much of our learning takes place during in-class simulated negotiation role-plays. Attendance for each class meeting is mandatory, as absences frustrate not only your own learning but the learning opportunities of the students you are partnered with in that day's simulation. For that reason, you should only enroll in the course if you can commit to attend every class session (on time), and all students must be present at the beginning of the first class to maintain their seats. Waitlisted students are invited to attend the first class in case a space opens up at that time. 

    Application for Enrollment: This course is not enrolled through the usual online registration system. If you would like to join the course, please use this form to be entered into the enrollment lottery, which is normally conducted shortly before university registration opens. If the class does not fill at that time, students may continue to use the form until the class closes. Please do not submit the form until you have read through the syllabus and familiarized yourself with the course requirements. Please note that the course is enrolled by this application only, and students who secure a seat during the lottery are expected to take it. Students will be notified by email when they are either admitted to the course or waitlisted. Additional instructions are provided on the application form.

  • Oil and Gas Law

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    This course will explore the law that applies to extracting and transporting oil and gas resources in the United States. The first several days of the course will describe the process of locating minerals underground and drilling and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and oil, as these processes and technical terms for these processes will arise in many of the cases that we will explore. After students have a basic understanding of the oil and gas development process, we will address the many types of law that apply to oil and gas extraction and transportation, including public law regulations and statutes as well as common law property, contract, and tort, among other laws. Using recent cases, we will explore who owns minerals and in what form; how mineral owners commonly “lease” minerals to energy companies and obtain bonuses, royalties and other payments in return; disputes that arise between mineral lessors and lessees over royalty payments and other lease issues; disputes between those who own minerals and those who own the surface; and environmental and social issues that arise during the drilling process and the lease terms and regulations that address these issues. We will also address recent court decisions that address state preemption of local oil and gas regulation. Finally, we will spend several days exploring the regulation of natural gas and oil pipelines, including the construction, siting, and operation of pipelines, and we will briefly touch upon export policies. 

  • Practical Skills in Land Use

    (1 credit)
    Pre/Co-requisites: Land Use Regulation

    This course is offered in tandem with Land Use Regulation. Students in this course will apply the doctrine they learn in Land Use Regulation to a realistic, hypothetical master-planned community located in coastal Florida, in order to consider how multiple regulatory programs are applied to a single project. Students will learn how to analyze a broad range of issues that can arise during the approval process for a complex project in Florida and how to work with clients, regulators, and stakeholders in the community. Practical exercises will include writing a strategy memorandum to the developer who is seeking land use approval for the new community, review a transportation analysis prepared for this project, consider ethical issues for lawyers representing developers and regulators, and gain experience with other practical aspects of this specialized practice in Florida. Prerequisites: 1) Take Professor Wiseman’s Land Use Regulation Class; or 2) Have previously taken Land Use and participate in a half-day “refresher course” on land use regulation taught by Professor Wiseman within the first two weeks of classes.

  • Real Estate Finance

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    This course is designed to train students to analyze complex commercial real estate transactions. It is interdisciplinary within law, attempting to integrate topics including basic mortgage law, usury law, subordination agreements, mechanics lien law, selected uniform commercial code issues, choice of business entity, federal and state securities law and, importantly, federal income tax law. Condominia and cooperatives are discussed as security devices. The federal income tax coverage concentrates on a handful of issues fundamental to commercial real estate transactions, especially the tax treatment of indebtedness and tax aspects of leasing arrangements, including synthetic lease transactions.

  • Seminar on Climate Change

    (3 credits)

    This seminar explores the interdisciplinary issues surrounding the problem of climate change, perhaps the most vexing and dangerous of environmental or social problems ever to confront humankind. The objective is to prepare students for areas of law – most of which are in early developmental stages – that affect climate change or adapt to climate change. In so doing, this seminar will require students to delve into not only the developing legal issues of climate change, but also the scientific, economic, technological, and psychological aspects of climate change. Students will be expected to participate actively in class discussion, actively research specific topics, make presentations to classmates, and complete a seminar paper that builds upon class discussion and, if ULWR credit is sought, comments by the instructor. Students completing the seminar will be expected to be literate, credible and insightful commenters and practitioners of climate law and policy. This course counts towards the Upper-Level Writing and Environmental Certificate requirements. 

  • Water Resources Law and Policy

    3 credits
    Prerequisites:  None

    This course provides an introduction to Water Law and Policy, a subject of great import to practitioners of environmental law, property law, international law, and other fields that contend with the allocation of scarce water resources among competing human, economic, and environmental needs. Water management is especially important in Florida, which lies over the largest freshwater aquifer in the world, and Florida has become a leader in modern regulatory approaches. The course explores the mechanics of water governance and how it has confronted classic dilemmas of legal theory, navigating the tensions between public and private rights in common pool resources, and between the rule of law and legal instrumentalism. Water Law continues to grapple with unforeseeable changes in technology, societal needs, and scientific understanding, each forcing questions about the degree to which law should, must, and/or can adapt to new circumstances. The course may be used to count toward the Upper-Level Writing and Environmental Certificate requirements.

Other FSU Graduate School Courses
Current Issues in Environmental Science (OCE5018) (Oceanography)
Dispute Resolution (URP5122) (Urban and Regional Planning)
Introduction to Historic Preservation (HIS5083) (History)
Principles of Oceanography (OCE4008) (Oceanography)
River Basin Management Planning (URP5405) (Urban and Regional Planning)