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Loyola and Georgetown law students join forces in accountability class

November 9, 2007

Robert Thomas, Chair in Environmental Communications at Loyola, speaks to students about Restoration of Louisianaĺs Working Wetlands.

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law students recently participated in a reciprocal government accountability program between Loyola and Georgetown Law.

On September 28 and 29, law students from Georgetown came to Loyolaĺs College of Law for a seminar, ôRecovery, Accountability, and the Law.ö On October 26 and 27, law students from Loyola attended a seminar at the Georgetown Law Center in Washington, D.C., entitled, ôGovernment Accountability: Climate Change and National Security.ö

The effects of Hurricane Katrina revealed a need for recognition of federal responsibility for prevention, as well as accountability for recovery needed due to foreseen prevention failures. The purpose of the joint seminar was to study and contribute to that shift as it occurs in federal law and policy, through the emerging field of environmental justice. Students in the class examined the federal governmentĺs responsibility for the causes of the levee failure flooding catastrophe, and the resulting consequences nationally, on the poor, and on people of color.

While in Washington, D.C., Loyola students spent time in discourse with various experts and political leadership on the implications of Katrina for the rest of the country, and on national responsibility and accountability for various types of disasters. Students visited the United States Congress, visited the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, CNN, and met with U.S. Representative Charlie Melancon (D-LA-3rd); Michael Brown, former undersecretary of emergency preparedness and response, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; William Wehrum, former acting assistant administrator for air and radiation at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and Michael Kirkpatrick, staff attorney, Public Citizen Litigation Group, as well as taking part in lectures and readings with professors from both universities.

While in New Orleans, Georgetown students took a bus tour of the areas flooded by the levee failure in the metropolitan New Orleans area, followed by a course discussion with speakers on urban planning and city development issues for which the federal government has responsibility, such as federal housing grants. They also toured the Barataria Preserve to study the issue of coastal restoration and attended lectures on federal environmental law issues.

Loyola supervising faculty are Robert R. M. Verchick, J.D., Gauthier-St. Martin Eminent Scholar Chair in Environmental Law, and John Lovett, J.D., associate professor of law, in conjunction with the Center for Environmental Law and Land Use at the College of Law.

The Center for Environmental Law and Land Use (CELLU) at the Loyola College of Law seeks to become a leader in legal environmental education and service in the Gulf Region. CELLU also organizes and hosts a variety of conferences, workshops, and lectures designed to educate the public and to spark collaborative efforts in research and service among academics and students. Much of its activity now centers on environmental and land-use issues associated with Hurricane Katrina and the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast.

For more information, please contact Robert Verchick at verchick@loyno.edu or (504) 861-5472.

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Loyola at a Glance is written and distributed for the faculty, staff, students and friends of Loyola University New Orleans. It is published by the Office of Public Affairs, Greenville Hall, Box 909, 7214 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118. (504) 861-5888.

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