• American University Washington College of Law

    Washington D.C.

  • We welcome all those who are interested in environmental law or those who love the outdoors and want to preserve the natural environment!

    Who Are We?

    The Environmental Law Society is a student organization dedicated to creating an awareness of current environmental matters and the legal issues surrounding them. Our mission is to encourage students and community members to support environmental initiatives. We accomplish this mission by keeping students and the community informed of important issues in environmental law and policy, promoting environmental scholarship, advocating for environmentally sound decision-making, and by providing opportunities to protect the natural environment and its irreplaceable creatures.


    The objectives of the ELS may be achieved through:


    1. Hosting speakers who work in the Environmental Law Field;
    2. Working closely with faculty and staff to bring environmental law events to campus;
    3. Collaborating with other WCL Law Societies to host joint events;
    4. Providing access to resource materials, internship availability, and networking opportunities;
    5. Encouraging open discussions of current environmental issues through speakers and debates.
  • Executive Board

    Reach out to us at anytime!

    Logan McPherson, 3L

    Executive Chair

    Logan has spent most of her life in the San Francisco Bay Area but also lived in Honolulu for a few years, where she graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a B.A. in Women's Studies. Since moving to DC, Logan has become deeply involved in a multitude of animal rights and environmental issues, and has interned for the Humane Society Legislative Fund and clerked for the Center for Biological Diversity. When she’s not at school or work, Logan loves to spend her free time invested in music, dance, and political advocacy.

    Casey Crandell, 3L

    Vice Chair

    Casey has lived all over the country but calls Arizona home. He's been in D.C. for the past few years though, working on sustainability issues in the federal government. He's continuing that work while focusing on environmental and energy law in the evenings. He plans to work in the policy and advocacy realm after graduation. In his free time, you can probably find him outdoors, either hiking, biking, or spending time with his dog.

    Blake Turley, 3L

    Finance Chair

    Raised in Connecticut, Blake's interest lies in land conservation and clean energy. As an environmental lawyer, Blake will use his degree to make the world sustainable for future generations. In his free time, Blake watches funny cat videos, rides his mountain bike, and gardens.

    Ellen Spicer, 2L

    Communications Chair

    Ellen grew up in Southern California and graduated from University of California, San Diego with a B.A. in Political Science. Prior to law school she worked in national parks sites across the country and spent time working on a major political campaign. Ellen hopes to use her law degree to help safeguard the environment and public lands. In her free time, you can find her cooking, hiking in and exploring local public lands, or just generally enjoying being outside.

    Meghen Sullivan, 2L

    Projects Chair

    Meghen grew up in rural Vermont, enjoying the majesty of the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain. She received her Bachelors degree from North Carolina State University in Science, Technology, and Society (STS), with a concentration in Humans and the Environment. Meghen hopes to use her law degree to further policy and advocacy initiatives related to corporate compliance, renewable energy, sustainable infrastructure, climate change, and environmental justice. In her free time, you can find her exploring Rock Creek Park, making sushi with her roommates, and obsessing over her friends pets.

  • Thinking about studying Environmental Law at WCL?

    Recommended Courses

    LAW-601 Administrative Law


    LAW-617 International Business & the Environment


    LAW-618 International Environmental Law


    LAW-629 Environmental Law


    LAW-630 Regulation of Energy


    LAW-648 Food and Drug Law


    LAW-681 International Biodiversity & Wildlife Law


    LAW-685 Oil and Gas Law


    LAW-686 Federal Public Lands & Natural Resources


    LAW-700 Advanced Administrative Law


    LAW-716 Environmental Litigation


    LAW-721 Law of the Sea


    LAW-737 International Institutions & Environmental Protection


    LAW-777 Legislative Practice Seminar


    LAW-783 Property & the Environment


    LAW-788 Federal Regulatory Process


    LAW-795 Animal and Wildlife Law


    LAW-795 Marine Conservation Law & Policy


    LAW-795 International Chemical Regulation


    LAW-795 Environmental Compliance and Enforcement


    LAW-795 International Climate Change Law


    LAW-795 Development Finance & the Environment


    LAW-795 Environmental Law Directed Research Seminar


    LAW-795 Environmental Justice


    LAW-795 Humane Rights & the Environment


    LAW-795 Marine Conservation Law & Policy


    LAW-813 Comparative Environmental Law


    LAW-824 Water Law


    LAW-829 Trade & Environment in the Americas: A Joint Course with Organization of American States


    LAW-844 Advanced Environmental Law


    LAW-844 Advance Environmental Law: Liability and Torts


    LAW-851 Climate Change & the Law


    LAW-852 Law of Non-Profit Organizations


    LAW-892 The Washington Lawyer

    Externship Opportunities

    WCL is located in the hub of the country when it comes to opportunities to extern at Environmental Protection Organizations and Agencies.


    Past student externships include:


    Center for International Environmental Law

    Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Decision

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

    United States Forest Service

    National Association of Clean Water Agencies

    Center for Biological Diversity

    The Nature Conservancy

    World Wildlife Fund

    The Nature Conservancy

    The Ocean Conservancy

    Defenders of Wildlife

    Sierra Club



    Humane Society of the United States

    Humane Society International

    Humane Society Legislative Fund

    Humane Society Wildlife Trust

    Natural Resources Defense Council

    American Petroleum Institute

    American Wind Energy Association

    DC Government

    Department of Energy

    Department of Interior

    EarthRights International


    Executive Office of the President, Council on Environmental Quality

    Food and Water Watch

    Friends of the Earth


    International Trade Commission

    Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal

    National Wildlife Federation

    Sierra Club

    United Nations

    World Bank

    World Resources Institute

    United States Trade Representative​

    United States Department of Agriculture, Office of General Counsel

    United States Department of Agriculture, United States Forest Service

  • The Sustainable Development Law & Policy Brief was founded to provide a forum for those interested in promoting sustainable economic development, environmental conservation, environmental justice, and biodiversity throughout the world.


    Email the publication to apply for a staff position, to subscribe, become a translator, or to submit an article!

    "SDLP" is a student-run initiative at AUWCL that spans a broad range of environmental issues such as sustainable development; trade; renewable energy; environmental justice; air, water, and noise regulation; climate change and ecology; land use, conservation, and property rights; resource use and regulation; and wildlife, habitat preservation, biodiversity, and animal protection.


    Our publication also focuses on reconciling the tensions between environmental sustainability, economic development, ecology, and human welfare.


  • The American University Office of Sustainability was founded in 2009 to help meet the university's goal of "acting on our values of social responsibility, service [and] an active pursuit of sustainability."

    The office develops and supports campus initiatives that promote sustainability within the campus community.

    AU is committed to building and operating spaces that are conducive to living, working, and learning and are environmentally friendly and healthy spaces.

    Green buildings reduce their environmental impact through energy and water efficiency, low-impact and healthy building materials, and sustainable operations and maintenance procedures.


    American University uses the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system to guide new construction and campus operations. The LEED rating system is a holistic green building rating system that emphasizes both reduced environmental impact and promoting human health. AU has several buildings certified under the LEED rating system.


    The design of the Tenley Campus places a high priority on environmentally sustainable development principles. Key components include water and energy efficient systems, sustainable material selection, and interior environments that promote occupant health.

    The Tenley Campus construction adheres to the University’s Green Building Policy, which supports the University’s goal of having a positive impact on the environment, as it relates to all university owned and operated facilities.


    Some of the green features in the Tenley Campus:

    • Buildings are located to maximize public transportation options & access
    • Bicycle use is promoted through amenities like locker rooms and showers, as well as over 200 bike rack spaces
    • Infrastructure is provided for Electric Vehicle charging stations
    • Open space on the site is maintained and maximized
    • Storm water is managed for quantity and quality using on-site features such as rain gardens
    • Light colored roof material is specified to minimize urban heat-island effect
    • Buildings will utilize nearly 50% less water than typical buildings of similar size through the use of high efficiency fixtures
    • A unique hydronic heating and cooling system will reduce energy consumption by more than 20%
    • Construction procedures will divert more than 90% of construction debris from landfills
    • Regionally-sourced material will make up at least 20% of the building
    • Certified sustainably-harvested wood will be used on more than 50% of all wood on the project

    American University is committed to strive for zero waste sent to landfill and incineration.

    In 2010, AU adopted a Zero Waste Policy mandating the creation of a team to develop a plan for reducing and diverting 100% of the university's waste stream.


    AU collects paper towel waste from all restrooms around campus separately. Student sustainability educators audited the campus waste stream and discovered that paper towels represent 13 percent of AU's waste.


    The university is reducing solid waste by replacing bottled water with inline water filters.


    In fall 2009, AU eliminated trays in the Terrace Dining Hall, reducing food waste by an estimated 32 percent.


    The university reuses and recycles surplus furniture by partnering with several area surplus and reuse centers.


    In 2009, the university recycled 43 percent of the solid waste generated on campus by presorting cans, glass, paper, cardboard, plastic bags, batteries, cell phone batteries, cell phones, and fluorescent lights.


    We collect and recycle vehicle waste including lubricants, antifreeze, oil filters, tires, and batteries.


    University-owned electronics equipment can be recycled bysimply e-mailing AUSurplus@american.edu.


    Personal electronics waste can be recycled at our quarterly e-waste recycling drives.


    We collect kitchen grease from TDR for recycling.

  • Send us a message

    We would love to hear from you!

  • Local Environmental Getaways

    Need to get away from the District? Check out these places!

    Offering care to neglected, abused, or abandoned farm animals

    The Billy Goat Trail is one of the most well known hikes in the Metro D.C. area, and for good reason. With nearly a mile of fun rock-hopping, and spectacular views of the Potomac River along the way, this circuit is loads of fun with plenty to see. We have the circuit rated as only a for difficulty, but be prepared to jump from rock to rock.

    Rock Creek Park is truly a gem in our nation's capital.

    This 1,754-acre city park was officially authorized in 1890, making it the 3rd national park to be designated by the federal government.


    It offers visitors the opportunity to escape the bustle of the city and find a peaceful refuge, recreation, fresh air, majestic trees, wild animals, and thousands of years of human history.

    Offering care to neglected, abused, or abandoned farm animals

    Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary is a 400 acre non-profit refuge in Poolesville, Maryland for farm animals and wildlife that relies entirely on public donations for support.


    Their mission is to offer care, rehabilitation, and permanent sanctuary for neglected, abused or abandoned farm animals, as well as providing a protected habitat for wildlife.


    They promote compassion and the humane treatment of all animals by educating the public on farm animal and wildlife issues.


    We are open for tours and visits by appointment.



    Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary
    P.O. Box 507
    Poolesville, MD 20837
    Phone: 301-428-8128

  • Environmental Law Resources

    Interested in Environmental Law? Check out these fabulous Envrionmental Protection Organizations!

    Center for International Environmental Law

    CIEL seeks a world where the law reflects the interconnection between humans and the environment, protects the dignity and equality of each person.

    The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) is a public interest, not-for-profit environmental law firm founded in 1989 in the United States to strengthen international and comparative environmental law and policy around the world.


    With offices in Washington, DC and Geneva, Switzerland, CIEL’s staff of international attorneys provide legal counsel and advocacy, policy research and capacity building in the areas of biodiversity, chemicals, climate change, human rights and the environment, international financial institutions, law and communities, and trade and sustainable development.

    Because Life is Good . . .

    At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.


    We want those who come after us to inherit a world where the wild is still alive.

    The CWSC is the only nonprofit based in the United States solely dedicated to the advancement of water security and the nonpartisan, impartial analysis and improvement of water law.

    Water security is a strategy that sets a clear purpose and direction for our efforts to guarantee we can meet current and future needs. Water is too essential a resource to leave its availability to chance. Our approach focuses on understanding the current role of law in advancing water security and identifying the opportunities to improve transparency, long-term management, and governance.

    ECOLEX is an internet database providing the most comprehensive, global source of information on environmental law.

    Operated jointly by the FAO, IUCN, and UNEP, it combines the environmental law information holdings of those three organizations.


    ECOLEX contains comprehensive bibliographic and analytical information as well as full text links to more than 1,100 multilateral and bilateral agreements, 62,000 on national legislation, 420 court decisions, and 28,000 records on literature on law and policy.


    Searching ECOLEX is easy. The portal offers a user-friendly Google-type feature by which the user can find information in all or selected datasets.


    For the more advanced user, ECOLEX includes specially tailored search forms for each of the datasets.


    ECOLEX covers all aspects of environmental and natural resources conservation, including subjects such as fresh and marine water, air and atmosphere, soil and land use, species and ecosystems, fisheries and forestry, hazardous substances and waste, as well as food and agriculture.


    All information has been analyzed and indexed in a standardized way, with descriptors such as country, name, territory, region, keywords, etc. harmonized.


    ECOLEX is free of charge and has a trilingual user interface that allows users to search in English, French, and Spanish.

    We stand side by side with these communities in their struggle for justice.

    EarthRights International (ERI) is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization that combines the power of law and the power of people in defense of human rights and the environment, which we define as "earth rights."


    We specialize in fact-finding, legal actions against perpetrators of earth rights abuses, training grassroots and community leaders, and advocacy campaigns.


    Through these strategies, EarthRights International seeks to end earth rights abuses, to provide real solutions for real people, and to promote and protect human rights and the environment in the communities where we work.

  • Social Feed

    Check out the latest environmental news!

  • Past Events

    Check out these events at WCL, in the DMV area, and across the country!

  • Our Constitution

    Environmental Law Society

    American University Washington College of Law




    The Environmental Law Society is a student organization dedicated to creating an awareness of current environmental matters and the legal issues surrounding them. Our mission is to encourage students and community members to support environmental initiatives. We accomplish this mission by keeping students and the community informed of important issues in environmental law and policy, promoting environmental scholarship, advocating for environmentally sound decision-making, and by providing opportunities to enjoy our natural environment and its irreplaceable creatures.




    Section 1.

    The name of this student organization is the Environmental Law Society (“ELS”).




    Section 1.

    ELS allows students to explore issues related to environmental law and policy. ELS contributes to the law school community by promoting various educational and networking opportunities for students who aspire to enter the field of environmental law.


    Section 2.

    In recognition of the importance of sustainable development practices, ELS members are encouraged to advocate for the WCL community to engage in sustainable practices, inter alia, energy and water conservation, diet, recycling, and for the reduction of consumption.


    Section 3.

    ELS members may pursue any activity that ELS officers deem relevant and beneficial to furthering the goals of ELS, as long as the activity is not prohibited by any policies of American University or the Washington College of Law.




    Section 1. Requirements

    Any student or faculty member of the Washington College of Law, or any graduate student of American University, is eligible to be a member of ELS.


    Section 2. Termination of Membership

    Membership in ELS is voluntary and a member can terminate membership at any time. To obtain membership a student may register with ELS by e-mailing els@wcl.american.edu or by signing up at any event at which ELS has prepared a sign-up sheet.


    Section 3. Non-discrimination

    ELS shall not discriminate on the basis of ancestry, color, race, cultural or ethnic background, economic status, ideological, philosophical, or political beliefs or affiliations, marital or parental status, national or regional origin, physical or mental disability, religion, or religious or denominational affiliation, gender or sexual orientation, dietary habits or environmental practices.




    Section 1. The Executive Board

    All Board Members cooperatively spearhead the coordinate of events and programs.


    • Preside at all meetings of the Executive Board, Student Advisors, and General Body.
    • Determine and formulate agenda items for Board meetings taking into consideration the recommendations of the Executive Board, Student Advisors and General Body.
    • Coordinate the presentation of the Board’s public statements representing the position of the Board and issue statements to the press, when appropriate.
    • Keep the Board focused on the mission, vision, and goals set forth in the ELS Constitution.
    • Delegate assignments and duties to other Board members
    • With the assistance of the Treasurer, develop for the Board’s review, a budget for each semester.
    • Attend SBA Finance Committee meetings, as needed.


    Vice Chair

    • Assist the President with every day matters.
    • Assume the role of President for an event or meeting when the President is unable to attend.
    • When the President is unable to carry out his/her duties, the Vice President will assume the duties of the President.
    • Maintain the ELS web page.
    • Attend SBA Finance Committee meetings, as needed.

    Financial Chair

    • Call and organize at least one meeting per semester to prepare the budget for the following semester. This meeting should be scheduled at least one week prior to the SBA deadline for budget submission.
    • Prepare each semesters’ budget.
    • Attend SBA Finance Committee meetings, as needed.
    • Keep all budget/financial records.

    Communications Chair

    • Maintain adequate communication between the Executive Board, other members of the Society, and the public. This includes but is not limited to: meeting announcements, announcements regarding special events and functions and communications between the school administration and the society.
    • Take minutes at executive board meetings.
    • Attend SBA Finance Committee meetings, as needed.
    • Send email updates

    Section 2. Student Advisor(s).

    At the discretion of the Executive Board, former Executive Board members, and/or 1Ls, may be retained in an advisory role.


    Section 3. Faculty Advisor

    ELS shall have a Faculty Advisor selected from the Environmental Law faculty at the Washington College of Law.




    Section 1. Candidates

    Each candidate for office must submit a statement of interest.


    Section 2. Voting Procedure

    If a vote is necessary, the Executive Board shall determine the appropriate means of voting. Candidates shall be elected by a majority of ELS members.


    Section 3. Date of Election

    Election of the Executive Board shall be no earlier than March 15 and no later than April 15 of each academic year.


    Section 4. Term of Office

    The term of office shall be one academic year or in the case of mid-year replacement, from the time of the replacement until the new officers are elected at the Spring election.


    Section 5. Impeachment

    Impeachment proceedings shall be at the discretion of the Executive Board. A three-fourths vote shall be required to replace an Executive Board member.




    Section 1.

    ELS may solicit funds in any manner consistent with Washington College of Law policies and procedures.


    Section 2.

    The financial management of ELS is the responsibility of the Treasurer.




    Section 1.

    In accordance with our mission to foster awareness of current environmental matters and the legal issues surrounding them—all ELS events must serve food that is environmentally sustainable. Mammals are inefficient convertors; their production is environmentally costly in terms of water used and greenhouse gases [GHG] generated. The production of one pound of beef consumes over 2000 gallon of water, whereas gran production consumes 200 gallons, and vegetables 100 gallons. Cattle contribute about 60 million tons of GHG per year. Therefore, our executive board shall order food that is efficient and unrelated to animal agriculture.




    Section 1. Constitution

    All proposed amendments to the ELS Constitution shall be made in written or electronic form and submitted to the Executive Board by any member, officer, or advisor of ELS.


    Section 2. Authority of Elected and Appointed Officers

    Elected officers and student advisors have full authority to implement and interpret the mandate of this Constitution. That implementation and interpretation shall be binding to the extent of its constitutionality. However, any questions of the constitutionality of the actions of the elected officers or student advisors shall be settled at a general meeting of the membership with a simple majority vote.


    Section 3. Bylaws

    The operation of ELS shall be in accordance with any bylaws.


    Section 4. Amendments

    Any amendment to the Constitution must be approved by a majority of the Executive Board when all members of the Executive Board are present, in person or by telephonic or other electronic means deemed appropriate by the Board as a whole.