North Carolina Central University (NCCU) School of Law has successfully initiated the development of an environmental law program through a partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vermont. This program is part of the EPA’s effort to increase outreach to minority and underserved communities. Through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in 2009 with the EPA and Vermont Law School (VLS), NCCU School of Law students spent five weeks on the campus of VLS during the months of June – July 2010.
Five NCCU School of Law students were enrolled in environmental law courses in VLS’s summer session of legal instruction. Vermont Law School has the nation’s number one ranked environmental law program in the nation. Kevin Foy, professor of environmental law and policy at NCCU School of Law also participated in the summer session and is directing the development of the program as part of the MOU.
The MOU is part of the EPA’s first organized effort to train more lawyers to handle environmental justice issues in minority and low – income communities, which bear a disproportionate amount of health and environmental impacts from pollution. NCCU School of Law is participating in the program through funding provided by the EPA.
Third year NCCU Law student Justin Anderson, who has a background in sociology, participated in the summer session at VLS and spoke highly of the program and how it has broadened his concept of public service. “I’ve talked to so many students here about pollution, invasive species, water quality, agricultural practices and land development.” he said. “Everyone is very passionate.”
NCCU School of Law Dean Raymond Pierce visited with the students at VLS during the summer session and expressed his enthusiasm for the program. “I am confident the partnership with VLS and support from the EPA will result in the development of a high quality environmental law program at NCCU School of Law. Vermont Law School Dean, Jeff Shields and I are committed to the success of this effort,” Pierce said.
At the 2009 signing of the MOU in Washington D.C., EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said new leaders must be invited into the environmental movement. “The actions behind this MOU will allow the EPA to give a voice to communities that haven’t had a voice in the past and empower them to act on our nation’s most pressing environmental and health needs of all Americans.”