• The Sustainable Development Law & Policy Brief

    American University Washington College of Law

    Washington, D.C.


    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.


    The Sustainable Development Law & Policy Brief (SDLP) is a student-run initiative at AUWCL.


    Because our publication focuses on reconciling the tensions found within our ecosystem, it spans a broad range of environmental issues such as sustainable development; trade; renewable energy; human rights; air, water, and noise regulation; climate change; land use, conservation, and property rights; resource use and regulation; and animal protection.


    Contact Information:

    Email: sdlp.wcl@gmail.com
    Office: 4300 Nebraska Avenue, N.W.

    Washington, D.C. 20016

    Capital Building, Room CT-03


  • Volume XIX

    Volume 19, Issue 1

    Fall 2018

    Each decade, new challenges present themselves to the citizenry of the globe. Some challenges include concerns about the environment, technological innovation, economic productivity, and international competitiveness.


    Investment in infrastructure facilities is crucial to addressing these challenges. Numerous past infrastructure investments have been responsible for significant improvements in the overall quality of life in terms of health, safety, economic opportunity, and leisure time and activities.


    Yet, much remains to be done if we desire a future with a cleaner environment, with safer urban streets, with increased mobility and economic opportunity for the disadvantaged, and with an economy well equipped to compete in the international arena.

    In attempting to answer the query of “Why is infrastructure important?” this issue of the Sustainable Development Law & Policy Brief seeks to highlight the linkages between infrastructure and overall quality of life as well as the potential importance of public infrastructure spending to the aggregate economy.

  • Volume 19 Editorial Board

    Summer 2018 to Spring 2019

    Nicole Waxman, 3L



    Nikki began law school soon after graduating from the University of Maryland College Park where she studied political science, sustainability, and the Spanish language.


    Nikki knew from a very young age that she wanted to pursue a career in environmental law, and has worked in both the federal government and in private practice pursuing environmental litigation. Nikki was a Student Attorney in WCL's Community and Economic Development Law Clinic, a law clerk at local litigation firm Joseph Greenwald & Laake, P.A., and will spend the fall semester interning with the Department of Justice in their Environment and Natural Resources Division. She has spent time working on high-altitude organic farms to promote sustainable agricultural practices and can often be found at her local farmer's market.

    Elizabeth Platt, 3L


    Elizabeth Platt is a third-year law student at American University Washington College of Law. She is a senior staff member of the American University Law Review, a member of the Environmental Law Society, and a member of the Women's Law Association. During law school, Elizabeth interned at the Environmental Protection Agency Office of General Counsel, the Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division, and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA).


    Elizabeth graduated from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, with a degree in economics and environmental studies. Prior to law school, she worked for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Oyster Gardening Program to increase the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay and raise awareness of local environmental issues.

    Alycia Kokos, 3L

    Managing Editor

    After living four years along the east coast, Alycia graduated from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington with a degree in Environmental Studies and her sights set on law school.


    With an interest in practicing wildlife conservation law upon graduation, Alycia stays involved on campus as the Co-Executive Chair of the Environmental Law Society and Animal Law Society as well as working as a Dean's Fellow for the Program on Environmental and Energy Law. On the weekends you can find Alycia exploring new hiking trails along the Potomac.


    Alison Shlom, 3L

    Co-Executive Editor

    Alison is a graduate of University of Colorado at Boulder, where she studied Environmental Studies, French, and Dance. Prior to law school, she worked at a non-profit in Boulder before teaching English in Thailand and India.

    She is also a Note and Comment Editor for the American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law, Vice Chair for the Environmental Law Society, Student Attorney for the Civil Advocacy Clinic, and Justice for the Student Bar Association. During her law school career, she has worked at WE ACT For Environmental Justice, the Department of Justice, Earthrights International, and the Enviormental Protection Agency. She intends to pursue a career in environmental litigation and enforcement. She loves yoga and baking.

    Jessica Maloney, 3L

    Co-Executive Editor


    After receiving a Bachelor of Science in environmental science from Cornell University and a Master of Professional Science in coastal zone management from University of Miami, Jessica decided to pursue a career in environmental law.


    In law school, Jessica’s interest in and passion for the oceans and environment have continued. She worked for the DC Department of Energy & Environment during her 1L summer and for the Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Appellate Section during her 2L summer. Last year, she worked as a student attorney for the WCL Community & Economic Development Law Clinic and competed in the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition. Jessica is also a senior staffer and mentor for the Administrative Law Review and a member of the WCL Environmental Law Society.


    Israel Cook, 3L

    Symposium Editor

    Israel Cook graduated from Transylvania University with a degree in Sociology and Anthropology. After graduation, she worked in non-profit and spent a year as an Americorps VISTA.


    At WCL, Israel is a student in the Disability Rights Law Clinic and Treasurer of the Health Law and Policy Student Association She is interested in how the environment intersects with human rights and social justice issues including health, disability and reproductive justice. She enjoys hanging out with her cat and walking dogs.

    Savannah Pugh, 2L

    Associate Managing Editor


    Savannah jumped into law school after finishing her undergraduate degree at the College of Charleston where she studied political science, crime, law and society, and sociology. The child of a marine, she was lucky enough to spend her childhood exploring the oceans around Hawaii, the mountains of Germany, and the shipwrecks off of North Carolina. She spent her high school career volunteering with a sea turtle rescue program in North Carolina. She grew up in many different states, but always found herself drawn to the ocean. She is interning at the Department of Justice Admiralty and Aviation division this fall. Always one for adventure, you can normally find her running the trails around DC, although she is often jet setting off to tropical locales.

    Alexandra Nolan, 2L

    Senior Features Editor

    During her undergraduate career at Washington College on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Ali’s studies focused on sustainable economic development with an international focus. She worked for a Microfinance NGO in the Philippines that invested in sustainable infrastructure projects, women’s small businesses, and eco-tourism projects. She believes environmental sustainability can not only be compatible with economic growth but can be beneficial to it.


    Ali chose to go to law school to become an advocate that can make a powerful difference in the developing world.This past summer she worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development in the Office of General Counsel, particularly focusing on acquisition and assistance of programs and administering aid to conflict-ridden countries.


    Ethan King, 3L

    Senior Editor

    Ethan King attended the University of Kansas and graduated with a BA in Communication Studies and a minor in Business . He also studied abroad in Italy as part of the business program called CIMBA. Going straight from graduating Ethan started at American University and is a JD/MBA candidate set to graduate with both degrees in 2020. He has had a passion for business, renewable energy resources, and the environment from a young age, dating back to his father’s use of renewable fuel for business trucks and he attended an environmental magnet elementary school. He is currently working in at the Department of Energy in the Office of Environment General Counsel. He is the president of the Jewish Law Student Association, and a Vice President of the Energy Law Society.

    Adam Gould, 2L

    Senior Editor

    Adam began law school after graduating from the University of Oregon and spending a year in Florida working for a foreign policy focused lobby. While at Oregon, he twice traveled to Guatemala to help build an entirely eco-friendly and sustainable school. This experience was eyeopening, as he realized there are several things each of us can do every day to lower our ecological footprint.


    Adam is a native of Los Angeles, California and credits the abundant good weather, hiking trails, and nearby parks for his love of the outdoors. On campus, he is also involved in the Mock Trial Honor Society, American University Law Review, and the Jewish Law Student Association.

    Hannah Gardenswartz, 2L

    Senior Editor

    Hannah graduated from Scripps College with a degree in Politics and International Relations, so she did what all Politics majors do and moved to Washington, D.C. While working in various areas around politics, she has been at volunteer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum since 2015.


    She grew up in Colorado and at a young age developed a respect for the environment and a love of playing outdoors. At WCL, she has been elected onto the e-boards of the Environmental Law Society and Animal Law Society. She is interested in the intersection of human rights and the environment.

    Brianna DelDuca, 2L

    Senior Editor

    After working for a member of Congress in New York City, Brianna decided she wanted to make a bigger impact on our planet and applied to law school.


    Brianna currently interns for the Humane Society Legislative Fund, where she works on policies that promote sustainable agricultural practices. She is also Vice Chair of Animal Law Society and a member of Environmental Law Society. She is a Junior Staffer for Administrative Law Review, where she is currently in the process of writing her comment about trophy hunting. After law school, Brianna hopes to practice environmental law with a focus in wildlife conservation and sustainable farming.


  • Events

    Spring 2019 Symposium


    Brought to you by
    American University’s Sustainable Development Law & Policy Brief and the Human Rights Brief, and in association with the Washington College of Law’s Environmental Law Society


    Keynote address by Amali Tower

    Founder and Executive Director of Climate Refugees, an independent project created to bring attention and action to help people displaced across borders as a result of climate change


    Friday, February 15

    9:00 AM to 2:30 PM in Claudio Grossman Hall

    American University Washington College of Law

    4300 Nebraska Avenue, Washington, D.C., 20016


    9:00am: Registration Opens

    9:40am: Introductory Remarks

    10am-11:20am: Panel on Climate Change and Migration

    11:40am-1pm: Panel on Land Use and Indigenous Rights

    1:00pm-2:30pm: Lunch and Keynote Address

    2:30pm-4:00pm: Dessert Reception


  • Masthead

  • Past Issues

    Volume XVII

    Infrastructure in the Context of Human Development

    2 | Editors' Note

    by Ingrid Lesemann & Luke Trompeter


    4 | A Nuclear Threat: The Tenth Circuit's Shocking Misinterpretation of Preemption Demanding an Amendment to the Price-Anderson Act

    by Stephanie Fishman


    18 | Wind Power and the Legal Challeges with NEPA and the ESA

    by Florianne Silvestri

    Animal Welfare in the Context of Human Development

    2 | Editors' Note

    by Luke Trompeter and Ingrid Lesemann


    4 | CAFOs: Plaguing North Carolina Communities of Color

    by Christine Ball-Blakely


    17 | The "Fowl" Practice of Human Labeling: Proposed Amendments to Federal Standards Governing Chicken Welfare and Poultry Labeling Practices

    by LaTravia Smith


    30 | Cruelty to Human and Nonhuman Animals in the Wild-Caught Fishing Industry

    by Kathy Hessler, Becky Jenkins & Kelly Levenda


    40 | Serving Pets in Poverty: A New Frontier for the Animal Welfare Movement

    by Amanda Arrington & Michael Markarian

    2 | Editors' Note

    by Ryan Schmidt and Kimberly Reynolds


    4 | Green is Good: How Green Bonds Cultivated into Wall Street’s Environmental Paradox

    by Luke Trompeter


    12 | Appraising the Role of the IFC and its Independent Accountability Mechanism: Community Experiencesin Haiti’s MiningSector

    by Kate Nancy Taylor


    29 | Batteries Included: Incentivizing Energy Storage

    by Lindsay Breslau, Michael Croweak, & Alan Witt

  • Apply for a Staff Position

    Interested in joining SDLP? Apply now!

    Click the button below to download the Staff Member Application, and email completed applications to sdlp.wcl@gmail.com.


    Applications for the Spring Semester are accepted on a rolling basis until 5pm on January 25, 2019.


    All accepted applicants will be required to attend our all-staff meeting on January 31, 2019 at 9pm.

  • Publish With Us

    Unfortunately, we aren't accepting proposals for articles or features at this time. Please check back soon as we plan for our next publication!

  • Past SDLP Symposiums

    Check out the events that we have hosted in the past!

    Science, Information, and Accountability in the 'Post-truth' Era

    A discussion on the importance of facts and transparency in environmental governance.


    The Symposium featured a panel discussion on the importance of facts, transparency, and responsibility in environmental governance, specifically within federal environmental agencies. Potential discussion topics may include: the necessity of fairly-balanced advisory councils; the importance of government funding for science and research; the sensitivity of data disclosure within the government; the force of whistleblowers in achieving accountability; the responsibility of agencies to fully inform the public on issues such as climate change; and the use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to promote transparency.


    Tuesday, March 27

    9:30 AM to 12:00 PM​ in NT07

    American University Washington College of Law

    4300 Nebraska Avenue, Washington, D.C., 20016


    9:00-10:00am: Coffee & Pastries/Check-In/Greetings

    10:00am-12:00pm: Presentations & Panel Discussion

    12:00-12:30pm: Lunch


    Moderated by Professor Amanda Leiter


    Lawrence Meinert, Former Deputy Associate Director of Energy & Mineral Resources at the U.S. Geological Survey


    Michael Walker,​ Former Director of EPA’s National Enforcement Training Institute in the ​Office of Enforcement and Compliance


    Michael Halpern, Deputy Director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.


    Eric Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Environmental Integrity Project; Former Director of EPA’s Office of Civil Enforcement (1997-2002).

    Infrastructure Projects: Permitting, Implementation, and Impacts.

    On behalf of American University’s Sustainable Development Law & Policy Brief, and inassociation with Washington College of Law’s Environmental Law Society and Animal Law Society, we would like to formally invite you to our upcoming Symposium entitled,

    Infrastructure Projects: Permitting, Implementation, and Impacts.


    Tuesday, November 14, 2017


    American University Washington College of Law

    Room NT01 (Ceremonial Classroom), Terrace Level, Warren Building

    4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20016



    8:30 AM to 9:00 AM: Breakfast/Greetings

    9:00 AM to 10:30 AM: Panel One

    10:30 AM to 11:00 AM: Coffee Break

    11:00 AM to 12:30 PM: Panel Two

    12:30 PM-1:00 PM: Lunch/Closing Remarks



    PANEL 1: An Overview of Infrastructure Permitting and Implementation


    Moderated by Professor Jeffrey Lubbers


    Angie Colamaria—Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Permitting Lead

     Ted Boling—Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Associate Director for the National Environmental Policy Act


    PANEL 2: The Environmental Implications of Infrastructure Projects on Water, People, Wildlife, and Public Lands


    Moderated by Professor Amanda Leiter


    Bob Irvin—American Rivers, President 

    Dr. Sacoby WilsonMaryland Institute Applied Environmental Health (MIAEH), Associate Professor 

    Gary FrazerU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, Assistant Director 

    Gregory SmithUnited States Forest Service, Lands and Reality Management, Director



    Monday, April 3, 2017

    9:15 am – 4:45 pm


    Trade and investment regimes have proliferated throughout recent years, and many have been quick to criticize the effects of both trade and investment on sustainable development. This symposium will focus on how trade and investment frameworks can both facilitate and hinder sustainable development. Three panels will take place, one exploring the initiatives in developing countries and resource exploitation and investment with relation to CITES implementation; the second, discussing proliferation of regional and

    mega-regional free trade agreements in contrast with the World Trade Organization rules, and theireffect on sustainable development policies and initiatives in developing countries; and the third on howIFI’s and public and private investments support developing countries in meeting their Paris Climate Commitments.

    All Eyes on Paris: The Global Agreement on Climate Change

    Join SDLP on Wednesday, November 11, 2016 for our fall symposium focusing on the upcoming COP21 in Paris and what needs to be done in order to agree on a global climate treaty.


    The Symposium will take place in WCL 603 on Wednesday, November 11 from 9:00am until 5:00pm. Feel free to attend the entire event or just the panels that interest you. Panel topics include: the U.S.’s approach to climate change in preparation for the COP, finding ways to achieve the 2°C target and other mitigation efforts, and finally adaptation and compensation for climate impacts.


    Click here for more detailed information about the panels: SDLP Fall 2015 symposium panel descriptions.

    Biodiversity: Examining the Legal Implications of Population Loss of Species


    Join SDLP on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 for an informative panel on biodiversity. William Snape will moderate the discussion.

    Scheduled speakers incude:

    • Richard M. Huber, Organization of American States
    • Kirk Talbot, Environmental Law Institute
    • Neil Cox, International Union for Conservation of Nature
    • Kip Knudson, Washington Office of the Governor for Alaska.

    Biodiversity Event Flyer




    Sustainable Development Law & Policy Brief Presents: “A Quest for Clean Energy”

    Register today for the SDLP Fall 2014 Symposium! This year’s symposium will cover recent energy and environmental law legislative and regulatory updates and what that means for different entities ranging from industry to public organizations.


    The Sustainable Development Law and Policy Fall 2014 Symposium will take place in WCL 603 on Thursday, November 6 from 10:00am until 4:00pm.


    Feel free to attend the entire day of events or the parts that interest you. Food will be provided throughout the day.


    Panel topics include the EPA’s proposed rule on emissions guidelines and the challenges encountered domestically and internationally in pursuit of sustainable energy solutions. Joseph Goffman, Associate Assistant Administrator & Senior Counsel of the EPA will also be delivering a key note speech.


    To see the flyer for this event, please click the following hyperlink: SDLP Fall 2014 Symposium 

    Second Annual CIEL-WCL International Environmental Law Conference

    March 21, 2011 1:00 pm - 5:30 pm, followed by reception.

    Click here to download a PDF version of the event schedule.

    As Goes China, So Goes the World: Chinese Development and Environmental Challenges

    On March 26, 2009, SDLP organized a conference focusing on environmental issues in China. A variety of issues were discussed at this conference including: post-Kyoto decisions on climate change and establishment of a carbon constrained economy; technology transfer, green technologies, and legal dynamics of weak IP protection; increase in public participation and viability of citizen suit litigation; energy investment, carbon sequestration, and development of clean coal; environmental impact statements: requirements and enforcement; food safety and exports from China; the intersection of human rights and environmental/development issues; increasing Chinese influence in the international (and especially developing) world; what kind of example will they set; and evaluation of how China is complying with international environmental and development regimes.


    Podcast available at http://www.wcl.american.edu/podcast/podcast.cfm.

    Oxfam Hunger Banquet: Trade and Investment in Foodstuffs During a Global Food Crisis

    On September 18, 2008 SDLP co-sponsored the Oxfam Hunger Banquet for WCL's International Week. 12pm-1pm, 6th Floor Lounge.

    Climate Change and Claiming the Arctic Circle

    On March 20, 2008 SDLP, organized a conference focusing on climate change and environmental, territorial, and resource claims in the Arctic.


    To view the webcast of these discussions, please visit http://www.wcl.american.edu/secle/video.cfm.

    Global Impact of Developments in U.S. Climate Law

    Panel: On March 29, 2007, panel discussed the legal consequences as climate change becomes a scientific and political reality. They also gave an overview of recent developments in U.S. climate law and how that impacts the international climate community. Review of pending litigation intending to comply state, federal, and business responses discussed, along with other emerging policies.

    Future of International Chemicals Management

    Conference: On February 22, 2006, SDLP organized a conference focusing on (1) the future of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management ("SAICM"); and (2) the reasons why the United States has hesitated to ratify Multilateral Environmental Agreements.


    To view the webcast of these discussions, please visit http://www.wcl.american.edu/secle/video.cfm (click on "The Future of International Chemicals Regulation).

  • 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.

    Tenley Campus

    The Tenley Campus is LEED Gold certified.

    LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) is a green building certification program that is the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability. To achieve certification, building projects must meet prerequisites and earn points to achieve varying levels of certification ranging from certified to platinum.

    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.

    “Ideally, the LEED certification process is most effective when sustainable approaches are incorporated very early on in the design process as was the case at Tenley,” said Jamie Lee, AIA LEED BD+C, Principal at Smith Group JJR, the D.C.-based architecture and engineering firm responsible for the design. “Both the law school and the university were committed to creating a sustainable LEED certified building and had aspirations and goals that were incorporated into the project.”

    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

    Receptacles for items that you may need to recycle infrequently such as clothes, batteries, ink cartridges, cell phones, plastic bags, and computers, monitors, and other e-waste can be found in several locations on AU's campus. Do your part to keep these easily recycled and often toxic items out of the landfill.

    • 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.
  • Campus Affiliations

    Here are some of the Law Societies that we collaborate with! Many of their members are also SDLP staff!

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

    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.

    Providing a forum for education, advocacy & scholarship aimed at protecting the lives & advancing the interests of animals through the legal system.

    Because issues relating to Animal Law also relate to a broad spectrum of issues surrounding other legal fields, we are a group of Law Students who seek to show how Animal Law intersects with nearly every other law field.

    The WCL Energy Law Society seeks to provide a forum for students, alumni, and professors to come together and promote discussion about developments in energy law and the global impact these developments have. The WCL Energy Law Society is both a professional and social network for friends and colleagues sharing an interest in energy.

  • Contact Us!

    Get in touch here or email us at: