UOG Can Help Guam Benefit From The Buildup
Will The University's New Environmental Law Course Hit The Ground Running?
Will It Get Traction In Time To Make A Meaningful Difference?
Written by Jeff Marchesseault, Guam News Factor Staff Writer
Tuesday, 08 December 2009 14:13
GUAM -The introduction of a new environmental law course taught by practicing attorneys at the University of Guam may come just in time to make a difference. Depending on the willingness of the course's real-world instructors to roll up their sleeves and delve right into the thick of the single most pressing environmental issue of the day, these down-in-the-dirt lawyers cum ad hoc professors and their graduate-level students have a chance to add substantive weight to concerns posed by the Department of Defense's Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS/OEIS) supporting Guam's region wide military buildup.
This 8,000-page document is now widely available for perusal online, at mayors' offices, at public libraries and at the Legislature building in Hagatna, and it is wide open for public comment. The Pentagon's Joint Guam Program Office has been accepting demonstrably serious written concerns since November 20th (the day DOD published the document) and will continue doing so until February 17th. This is a three-month window of opportunity for anyone concerned about the buildup and its effects to sort through what's most important to them within the nine or ten indexed volumes available online or inside bound volumes at the various assigned public reading rooms.
Timing = Everything
As a Spring 2010 course, the environmental law program presumably launches somewhere around the third week of January, just less than a month before the DEIS comment period closes. This is perfect timing for a hit-the-ground-running class project that could have meaningful and lasting effect on various aspects of the Final Environmental Impact Statement in ways that would reward students and their instructors while benefiting the community. The Defense Department acknowledges that no working DEIS/OEIS can exist in a vacuum -- and that no such document can be perfect -- but that it can be improved upon in ways that help the host community and the military simultaneously if the host community is willing to participate in a meaningful way.
'Ready-Made' For Impact Improvement
UOG's environmental law course requires students to have at least a bachelor's degree before registering and requires the price of enrollment. Chances are that nearly all such qualified students are going to have a serious interest in the consequences and opportunities involved in the most intensive, condensed environmental impact to hit Guam in decades. If the practicing attorneys who have been hired to carry out the coursework want to make the greatest impression on their students and if their students hope to have the most direct influence on their community, now would be the time for instructors to begin planning coursework around the DEIS/OEIS and for students to begin familiarizing themselves with this critical document.
Here is the official course announcement from the University of Guam:
UOG Offers New Graduate Course: Introduction To Environmental Law
The Environmental Science program at the University of Guam offers a new course in Environmental Law beginning in the spring 2010 semester
"We believe this new course will be of interest to our current graduate students as well as alumni and others in the community who want to learn more about the regulation and enforcement of environmental requirements," said John Jenson, Professor and Environmental Science Program Chair at the University of Guam. "The Environmental Law course will certainly benefit those individuals working in the environmental field."
In an effort to cater to the schedules of working professionals, Environmental Law will be offered Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. It will be taught by a team of local practicing attorneys: Sam Bailey, James Collins, Aaron Jackson, Christina Pedersen, and James Wade. This course surveys the laws and agencies that regulate, enforce, and litigate current environmental issues. It provides an introduction to the major federal environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, RCRA (waste disposal), and CERCLA ("Superfund") statutes. It also introduces students to the local counterparts to these national statutes, and to the common law actions useful for individuals or communities seeking to address specific environmental concerns. The goals of the course are to provide students of the environmental and related sciences with:
· A basic understanding of the central statutes and legal framework by which the work of environmental science professionals is applied within the jurisdictions of the United States of America
· Insight into how various environmental challenges of the modern world are resolved in the nation's courts and legislatures.
This is a graduate level course; interested individuals must have earned a bachelor's degree.