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Posts Tagged ‘Maryland Law’

The Environmental Law Clinic at Gonzaga’s Law School represents Kootenai Environmental Alliance on Clean Water Act issues — currently including our efforts to clean up after the mess made by the Fernan Lake road project, and our efforts on behalf of the Spokane River.  While this is a relatively new development for KEA, and while this clinic is a new incarnation at Gonzaga Law, environmental law clinics around the country are doing important work for small environmental groups like ours.  

 Recently, a number of law clinics have come under attack for their work, including teh nationally ranked clinic  at the University of Maryland, my law school alma mater.  Legislators in Maryland went after the Maryland Law School’s budget after a large poultry producer complained about the Clinic’s Clean Water Act enforcement case against the producer and its contract farmer for polluting the Chesapeake Bay.  After a national outcry, the law school’s budget was restored, but the Environmental Law Clinic will be required to file a report to the legislature regarding its clients and cases.

 Environmental law is a complex field, and having firsthand clinical experience is important legal training for increasingly specialized lawyers-to-be.  But it is also extraordinarily valuable to groups like KEA. We wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford the legal fees that can accrue in complex environmental cases, and we wouldn’t otherwise have access to young, bright, and motivated law students to work on our behalf on such complex matters.  As we try to protect water quality in North Idaho, we’re glad to have Gonzaga’s clinic on our side.

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My friends (all 1000 of them) back in Maryland posted this item recently, and wouldn’t it be nice here in Idaho!  According to a relatively new Maryland law, all key land use decision makers are now required to take an on-line training course in planning and zoning. 

We skimmed the course materials (here — a large pdf) and were impressed with the breadth and clarity and organization of the course, developed by the state’s Department of Planning.  Some of the concepts are very particular to Maryland, but some are relatively universal.  It seems like such an excellent idea and easy to implement —  a simple course to explain the terms and concepts of land use law and planning would probably be an enormous benefit to the often inexperienced elected and appointed officials here in Idaho.

As the Kootenai County Commissioners are scheduled to continue their stunningly slow slog through the draft update to the Comprehensive Plan on Monday, maybe a quick review of the Maryland materials would be a good refresher.

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