Clinic News

  • ELC Director explains need to regulate toxic chemicals in drinking water in The Hill (March 26, 2020)
  • ELC students have worked across several semesters to address the urgent need to regulate toxic fluorinated chemicals (“PFAS”) at the local, state, and federal level.  In this op-ed, ELC, its most recent clients, and its allies exhort the U.S. EPA to designation PFAS as “hazardous waste” in response to two pending petitions to the agency.

  • ELC presents at Oregon public interest environmental conference regarding oil drilling, oil spills, and our clinic’s legal response (March 8, 2020)
  • ELC students, clients, and co-counsel collaborated on a presentation at the University of Oregon’s annual Land, Air, Water conference, held as a virtual conference due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. The recorded panel presentation, “No Artic Ice, More Arctic Oil, & a 26-year-old Spill Response Plan! What’s Our Counter-Plan?” is available here.

  • Clinic Sues U.S. EPA Over Dangerous, Outdated Plan for Oil Spill Response (January 30, 2020)
  • ELC and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco to compel the Environmental Protection Agency to issue rules restricting use of toxic chemicals to “clean up” oil spills. Instead of mitigating harm, these chemical dispersants have proven to be more toxic to humans and the environment than oil alone. Our suit was covered in the environmental trade press here and here.

  • Clinic Petitions U.S. EPA to List Dangerous Chemicals in Drinking Water as “Hazardous Waste” (January 16, 2020)
  • On behalf of the Green Science Policy Institute and community groups nationwide whose drinking water is contaminated with toxic and persistent fluorinated chemicals (“PFAS”), the Environmental Law Clinic has petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to designate hundreds of known-dangerous PFAS chemicals as “hazardous waste,” and regulate them stringently from cradle to grave. ELC’s director describes the petition’s purpose and context in this blog post. The petition has been featured in trade and local press, on public radio, and on local TV in Michigan, a state with extreme PFAS contamination.

  • ELC works to assure equity while decarbonizing our energy system (December 3, 2019)
  • ELC’s work to assure equity while decarbonizing our energy system was recently featured in this Berkeley Science Review story, “Carbon-Powered Inequality,” describing cross-disciplinary efforts at UC Berkeley to address social justice and environmental protection simultaneously.

  • Clinic students file comments responding to the California PUC’s affordability proposal (November 26, 2019)
  • Following a historic ELC-assisted victory, where the California Public Utilities Commission committed $56 million to invest in affordable energy pilot projects in the San Joaquin
    Valley, the clinic continues to advocate to ensure these projects are implemented efficiently and equitably.  In at least 170 communities throughout the Valley, low-income residents and residents of color have been denied access to safe and affordable energy. Responding to the commission’s latest affordability proposal, clinic students filed comments at the end of November, pushing for a longer time period for the discount and wider access. 

  • ELC Director promotes cosmetics safety bill in San Francisco Chronicle (August 11, 2019)
  • In fall 2018, ELC students worked with client Breast Cancer Prevention Partners on California legislation to force public disclosure of known-toxic ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products. In 2019, this collaboration became Senate Bill 574, the “Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act of 2019.”  The bill is now approaching a floor vote in the legislature; Director Claudia Polsky explains its importance in this San Francisco Chronicle op-ed.

      • ELC alumna is panelist at State Water Board workshop on access to sanitation for the homeless (April 19, 2019)
      • The State Water Resources Control Board recently held a day-long workshop on improving access to sanitation services for people experiencing homelessness, drawing in significant part on the clinic’s spring 2018 report for client Environmental Justice Coalition for Water. (Pictured far right: ELC alumna Sandra Lupien M.P.P. ’18, who has continued to work with our client on water access issues after graduation.)

      • Nationwide media coverage of ELC lawsuit re: offshore oil spill response plan (March 25 & 26, 2019)
      • ELC’s announcement of its intent to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the need to update the nation’s dangerous, outdated oil response plans was covered in print and radio media from Alaska to the Gulf Coast to EPA’s home of Washington, D.C. Read the stories — along with an Op Ed in The Guardian co-authored by an ELC student and a clinic client – here

      • Preventing oil spill catastrophe: Clinic announces intent to sue U.S. EPA over outdated oil spill response regulations (3/25/19)
      • ELC today issued a Notice of Intent to Sue to the federal Environmental Protection Agency over that agency’s ongoing, illegal authorization of the use of toxic chemicals in an effort to disperse oil after offshore oil spills. The use of dispersant chemicals following the Exxon Valdez spill (1989) and BP Deepwater Horizon disaster (2010) sickened coastal communities and spill response workers.  ELC represents ALERT, an oil spill response project of marine toxicologist Dr. Riki Ott; the nonprofits Alaska Coalition for Action on Toxics and Cook Inletkeeper; a commercial fisherwoman on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana whose family suffers persistent illnesses from the chemicals used in the BP Deepwater Horizon response; and an Inupiat woman living on the North Slope of Alaska who has organized to ban the use of dispersants in Alaskan Native villages.

      • California’s Human Rights Crisis: A Webinar on Inadequate Access to Water and Sanitation by Homeless Residents  (2/15/19)

        This webinar, hosted by Clinic client, the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (EJCW),  builds upon an Environmental Law Clinic report for EJCW. It was produced and moderated by Clinic alumna Sandra Lupien. The Commission’s groundbreaking decision, and the role of ELC, its clients and its co-counsel in achieving it, are described here.


      • ELC Successfully Advocates for the California Public Utilities Commission to Provide San Joaquin Valley Residents Cleaner and Safer Energy Options (12/2018).

        ELC played a central role in the approval of a $56 million investment of affordable energy resources, including community solar, in 11 San Joaquin Valley communities. Some of these communities were historically redlined and have been trying to get access to affordable energy for an astonishing 50 years. The Commission’s groundbreaking decision, and the role of ELC, its clients and co-counsel in achieving it, are described here.


      • Clinic urges EPA not to weaken vehicle GHG emissions standards (9/10/2018). Read ELC Fellow Purba Mukerjee’s blog about the letters here.



      • ELC client Dr. Joel Moskowitz received this year’s James Madison Freedom of Information Award from the Society of Professional Journalists 
        • Northern California Chapter, for the public records litigation brought on his behalf by ELC and the First Amendment Project. This case forced the state’s public health department to release information about suspected health harms from cell phone radiation, and advise the public about precautionary measures. In this 3–minute clip from the awards ceremony at minutes 12:45 to 15:45), Dr. Moskowitz states that the information disgorged through our case victory has now been covered in 200 media outlets in 48 countries (where it is having multi-local  policy effects). (4/10/2018)

                        -Campus press coverage here

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