Monday, January 25, 2010

The University of Maryland School of Law's Environmental Lobbying Clinic

Why is the University of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic—an entity of the taxpayer funded University of Maryland School of Law—engaging in narrow political advocacy for environmental special interest groups?

Inquiring minds want to know.

According to a letter from the Maryland State Builders Association to University System of Maryland Chancellor, William Kirwan (see below) the Environmental Law Clinic is representing the various allied Maryland Riverkeepers in a petition to the EPA to withdraw the states delegated authority to administer the Clean Water Act’s pollution permitting program.

Law School

It's no secret that burdensome environmental regulations, which the current EPA is poised to implement, will further harm the state’s already reeling building and construction industry. The added regulatory tax means higher costs and fewer jobs for an industry that has already hemorrhaged 60,000 jobs.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that the tax payer funded environmental law clinic has engaged in political advocacy for environmental special interests. During the 2009 General Assembly session the legislature passed and Governor O’Malley signed a law expanding legal standing rights to give citizens more power to challenge environmental permits. Guess who was the driving force behind it?:

…student attorneys in the Environmental Law Clinic were the primary researchers and drafters of this legislation. Clinic students worked countless hours researching standing laws in the other 49 states, attending coalition work group sessions, and quickly responding to research questions posed by various General Assembly members. The students also drafted testimony for witnesses who testified at the bill hearings; the witnesses were from a coalition comprising the individual Riverkeepers and other environmental organizations including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 1000 Friends of Maryland, and the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

In other words they are taxpayer funded lobbyists for narrow special interests.

Why are the Riverkeepers using taxpayer funded legal counsel when they could easily seek counsel from the primordial ooze of well-heeled trial lawyers from which their movement evolved?

Marylander’s—by an overwhelming 77% majority—believe the state should focusing on job creation rather than taking steps to reduce pollution in the Bay. It’s a good bet they don’t like their tax dollars going to organizations who work to limit job creation and economic growth in the state.

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