Skip to main content

College of Law

Florida State University

 

Environmental Courses

Our complement of full-time faculty regularly offers a rich set of core courses in environmental, energy, land use, and natural resources law. Our faculty, together with distinguished adjunct and visiting professors, also offer an extensive array of advanced courses in the field.

The following courses are offered in the area of Environmental, Energy, Land Use, and Natural Resources Law. Not all courses on this list are offered on a regular basis. You must consult the current course list and plan your schedule accordingly.

  • 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. 

  • 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. Active class participation is expected. The course is an exam-based lecture course.

  • 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.

  • Current Issues in Environmental Law & Policy Seminar

    (3 credits) 

    This seminar will cover important and timely issues in environmental law.  For example, the seminar may include discussion of issues that relate to various aspects of climate change adaptation and mitigation, the BP spill, and compliance with the environmental laws.  Students will be expected to write a paper that will enable them to fulfill the upper level writing requirement, in addition to other course requirements. 

  • Emerging Issues in Energy Law: Renewables and Unconventional Fossil Fuels
    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    This three-credit 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 not, for the most part, repeat topics from Energy Law & Policy or Oil & Gas. 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.

    The course will be taught live, but it will also be recorded and available online. Students may elect to sign up for the online version of the course. Any ULWR students who take the course online will have to be available to meet with Professor Wiseman in person at least two times during the semester to discuss the paper topic and drafts.

    All students who take the course live must take the exam in person at the law school.  Students who enroll in the course as online students will have the option of taking the exam in person or, if they are out of town, through the online exam service “Examity.”  Online students who take the exam through Examity will  have to pay a fee of approximately $40 for Examity, and a proctor will electronically monitor these students by viewing these students through their computer camera as the students take the exam. There are no prerequisites for the course. Course is capped at 25 for students who take the course as ULWR. There is no cap for exam takers.

  • 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.  This class does not repeat topics discussed in Professor Wiseman’s Oil & Gas course.  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.  The course will help to prepare students for work with organizations such as the Florida Public Service Commission, the Florida Office of Public Counsel (which represents the interests of electricity ratepayers), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the National Electric Reliability Corporation, energy developers, law firms that represent energy developers, and nonprofit environmental and energy groups.  The course will be taught live, but it will also be recorded, and 20 students may sign up to watch the recordings electronically and take the course online.  All live students must take the exam in person at the law school.  Students who enroll in the course as online students will have the option of taking the exam in person or, if they are out of town, through the online exam service “Examity.”  Online students who take the exam through Examity will  have to pay a fee of approximately $40 for Examity, and a proctor will electronically monitor these students by viewing these students through their computer camera as the students take the exam. 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 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.

  • 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.  Students will be grouped into opposing teams, but each is responsible for his/her own written work product.

  • 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. 

  • Land Use Regulation

    (3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    This course, which will be offered only as an online course during Spring 2016, 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. 

    This will be an online only course, and it will be open to students at any accredited law school within the United States. Students will have weekly reading assignments, and they will be required to watch weekly lectures that explore these reading assignments. The course will be asynchronous, meaning that lectures will be available online for students to view at their convenience each week; students may choose any time of the week to watch the lectures. At the end of each week, students will be required to electronically submit responses to questions posed by the professor to demonstrate that they have done the readings and watched the lectures. Students’ viewing of the online lectures will be monitored in order to verify attendance. A portion of students’ grades will be based on students’ responses to questions, and the remaining portion of the grade will be based on a final open-book exam, which students will take remotely (from their home computers, for example).

    Students who are not enrolled in FSU College of Law must register with FSU in order to take the course and must obtain permission from their school if they wish to receive credit for the course at their school. 

     

  • 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.  Professor Wiseman will teach the class through an informal discussion format. She will assign readings from Blackboard and/or hard-copy handouts (not a textbook) and will expect students to come to class prepared to participate extensively in discussion.  Students each will write a paper using the materials assigned for class as sources and will submit this paper at the end of the course; students’ performance in class will be graded on the basis of this paper and their participation. Students will be able to independently propose paper topics that most interest them. Due to the nature and length of the paper required, 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

    A survey of natural resources law, emphasizing water resources management and pollution control, wetlands regulation, and wildlife law. 

  • Ocean and Coastal Law

    (2-3 credits)
    Prerequisites: None

    A study of aspects of land use, water law, natural resources law, property, and constitutional law, but from the perspective of the special needs of the coast. The course examines the common law and major acts protecting coastal zones and natural resources. The course includes discussion of the important interrelations of water, habitat, wildlife, and land use, as well as issues concerning jurisdictional conflicts.

  • 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 (most from 2000 and beyond), 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.

    This will be an online only course, and it will be open to students at any accredited law school within the United States. Students will have weekly reading assignments, and they will be required to watch weekly lectures that explore these reading assignments. The course will be asynchronous, meaning that lectures will be available online for students to view at their convenience each week; students may choose any time of the week to watch the lectures. At the end of each week, students will be required to electronically submit responses to questions posed by the professor to demonstrate that they have done the readings and watched the lectures. Students’ viewing of the online lectures will be monitored in order to verify attendance. 30 percent of students’ grades will be based on students’ responses to questions, and 70 percent will be based on a final open-book exam, which students will take remotely (from their home computers, for example).

    Students who are not enrolled in FSU College of Law must register with FSU in order to take the course and must obtain permission from their school if they wish to receive credit for the course at their school. 

  • 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 Professor Wiseman’s course 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. The hypothetical planned community was designed for use in this course by the adjunct who will teach it with assistance from one of the nation’s leading land planning firms and has single- and multi-family residential, commercial, institutional, recreational, open space, and ancillary uses on an environmentally sensitive site. The site has a number of attributes that require careful attention during the planning and approval process in order to comply with a range of regulatory requirements and minimize the risk of litigation. 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. The course will be pass-fail and is capped at 20 students.

    In order to participate in this course, students must either:

    1) Take Professor Wiseman’s Spring 2015 Land Use Regulation Class

    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 Spring 2015 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.

  • 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 first half of the course will cover the major doctrines of private water allocation in the eastern and western United States—riparian rights, prior appropriations, and hybrid permit systems.  The second half of the course will explore special topics that intersect with Water Law, including groundwater, constitutional takings, the public trust doctrine, federal reserved rights, interstate and international disputes, water institutions, and Florida water governance.  To experience these issues in living color, the class will take a mid-semester field trip to a regional site of Water Law interest.  This course will be useful for students interested in careers in environmental law, land use law, urban planning, real estate development, agriculture and food law, and municipal and state government.  The course may be used to count toward the Upper-Level Writing and Environmental Certificate requirements, but other students are also very welcome in the class. 

 

Course Tracks

The following are five possible areas of practice emphasis, along with suggested courses that may be taken by students interested in these various areas. These courses are in addition to Environmental Law, Administrative Law, and Land Use Regulation, which are required for students seeking the Environmental Law Certificate. See above for descriptions of the following courses.

Energy Law

  • Energy Law and Policy
  • Oil and Gas Law
  • Natural Resources Law
    or
    Natural Resources Law and Policy Seminar
  • Emerging Issues in Energy Law
    or
    Seminar on Climate Change
    or
    Climate Change (lecture)

Land Use Law

  • Survey of Florida Environmental Practice
  • Florida Administrative Practice
  • Local Government Law
  • Condominium and Community Housing Law
  • Practical Skills in Land Use
  • Water Resources Law and Policy
  • Current Issues in Environmental Law & Policy Seminar
    or
    Emerging Issues in Energy Law
    or
    Seminar on Climate Change
    or
    Climate Change (lecture)
  • Real Estate Finance

Natural Resources Law

  • Natural Resources Law
    or
    Natural Resources Law and Policy Seminar
  • Energy Law and Policy
  • Ocean and Coastal Law
  • Water Resources Law and Policy
  • Current Issues in Environmental Law & Policy Seminar

Federal Law

  • Seminar on Climate Change
    or
    Climate Change (lecture)
  • Natural Resources Law
    or
    Natural Resources Law and Policy Seminar
  • Energy Law and Policy
    or
    Oil and Gas Law
    or
    Ocean and Coastal Law
  • Current Issues in Environmental Law & Policy Seminar

Florida Law

  • Survey of Florida Environmental Practice
  • Florida Administrative Practice
  • Ocean and Coastal Law
  • Condominium and Community Housing Law
  • Practical Skills in Land Use
  • Water Resources Law and Policy