Albany Law School Environmental Law Work Cited, Highlighted

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While winter weather in New York is typically frightful, Albany Law School’s work in environmental law has been quite delightful this year.

In Fresh Air Fund for the Eastside, Inc. v. New York, members of the town of Perinton, N.Y. in Monroe County filed suit claiming that odors, fugitive emissions, and climate change impacts from the operation of High Acres Landfill violated the environmental rights of nearby property owners and residents. The suit was filed against New York City (which sends garbage to the landfill), Waste Management of New York LLC (the private company that operates the landfill), and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). 

On Dec. 7, the first decision on the case was made under Article I, Section 19, of the New York State Constitution on environmental rights that was added to New York’s Bill of Rights in 2021.

The Hon John J. Ark of the Monroe County Supreme Court dismissed claims against the Waste Management and New York City, but denied NYSDEC's motion to dismiss. In the 20-page decision the judge cited the Government Law Center’s Nov. 2021 explainer, “New York’s New Constitutional Environmental Bill of Rights: Impact and Implications,” by Scott Fein and Tyler Otterbein ’22.

Fein is a partner at Whiteman Osterman & Hanna in Albany, and a past chair and current member of the GLC's Board of Advisors. He has worked with the GLC specifically, and the law school at large, on a wide array of projects including a book focusing on Immigration law last year. After graduating in May, Otterbein recently became and Associate at Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria LLP in Buffalo.

The explainer was also cited in the Albany Times-Union story, "This landfill lawsuit result could set the tone for NY's Green Amendment."

The explainer is from a series that concisely map out the law that applies to important questions of public policy. The GLC has explainers on a variety of topics, including state constitutional amendments, voting rights, government ethics reform, political redistricting in New York, immigration, aging, and policing, among others.

Read more here

The GLC has also launched a similar program, the Improving Interbranch Communication Project to bridge gaps between New York’s Courts and the state's Executive and Legislative branches. More about that is here.

Environmental Law

Beyond the citation, the latest edition of NY Environmental Lawyer (Vol. 42, No. 3) highlighted work being done by Albany Law students, “under the supervision of Professor Jonathan Rosenbloom, students enrolled in Land Use and Racial Justice are exploring several local land use laws addressing environmental injustices. In the course, students explore the law’s role in creating, exacerbating, alleviating, and remedying exclusionary and discriminatory tactics through the regulation of land. Throughout the semester students not only view what ‘is,’ but also rethink what could or should be.”

Highlighted student included:

  • Austin G. Burke ’24, Promoting Environmental Justice Through Community Petition — When it comes to environmental justice and the ability to enact real change in communities, there is no better way to succeed than to go directly through the community itself. Under this proposal, there will be a community- based system to petition the local government for both land use/environmental justice concerns, as well as public health and safety.
  • Elisabeth Schanz ’24, Reducing Physical Barriers to Coastal Public Beach Access — This project proposes actions that can reduce physical barriers to public coast- al beach access, including prohibiting private signs that discourage public access, promoting the maintenance of walkovers, coordinating walking systems, and ensuring visual access to the shoreline.
  • Jacob Wheeler ’23, Making Parks More Accessible for City Residents — This project focuses on making parks more accessible for urban residents by eliminating parking and admission fees to parks for people who are residents of nearby cities and by creating more transportation from cities to nearby parks.
  • Esther Asiedu ’24 - addressing heat island effect 
  • Cassandra L. Carudo, ’23 - racial equity analysis/racial impact assessments for development 
  • Jocelynn J. Buti ’24 - community-based forest management plans
  • Andrew Dachinger ’24 - lead levels in potable water
  • Madeline Ping ’23 - encouraging grocery stores in food apartheid areas
  • Christian Decker ’24 - restorative land justice to tribes
  • Aya Osman ’24 - increasing parks through environmental justice areas
  • Allison Magnarelli ’23 - incentivizing development in open spaces under bridges
  • Zachary Evans ’24 - biodiversity overlay zones
  • Cyayn LaGuerre ’24 - phasing out harmful emitting uses
  • Korra O’Neil ’24 - making bus shelters into green spaces
  • Vanessa Rodriguez ’24 - diversifying park rangers and making parks more welcoming to diverse inhabitants
  • Nicholas Mattison ’24 - increasing waste recycling in certain areas
  • Brooke Bacchus ’24 - creating mixed-use districts without negative gentrification impacts
  • Timothy Zehr, Jr. ’24 - preventing landlords from considering an applicant’s criminal history when renting a property
  • Allison Dentinger ’24 - tenants’ rights of first refusal
  • Shaniece Hunter ’24 - encouraging banks to set up brick-and-mortar locations in bank-starved areas
  • Christina C. Jefferson ’24 - allowing mobile homes by right
  • Kimberley Bernard ’24 - amending abandoned/placarded buildings laws in communities of color