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Turner Environmental Law Clinic



The Turner Environmental Law Clinic was founded in 1998 through a generous grant from the Turner Foundation. Over the years, the Clinic has grown in size, sophistication, and impact, while staying true to its original goals of protecting our planet today, while training the leaders of tomorrow.

The Clinic has garnered national recognition for its expertise in three focus areas: clean and sustainable energy; regenerative agriculture and local food systems; and natural resource protection.

Clean and Sustainable Energy

We are, in writer Jeremy Leggett’s words, squarely in the middle of the greatest energy transition in history. The Clinic has long been committed to ensuring this transition best protects the environment and communities. Together with incredible partners and co-counsel, we have successfully challenged plans to construct “dirty” power plants and illegal nuclear waste dumps across the country, drafted model ordinances to encourage the smart development of solar power, fought agency decisions that ignored environmental and public health impacts of power generation, assessed state law barriers to addressing climate change, analyzed the energy efficiency planning process in the southeast, helped cities achieve their clean-energy goals, and used the Freedom of Information Act to bring to light critical information about the Department of Energy’s and Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision-making processes.

Regenerative Agriculture and Local Food Systems

The food system encompasses the supply chain in which food is grown, processed, distributed, marketed, retailed, and consumed, and the many inputs it consumes, outputs it creates, and people it employs. The prevailing food system contains components that harm the environment, negatively affect human health, and contribute to economic inequality. According to Paul Hawken’s Drawdown, “what we eat turns out to be the number one cause of global warming.” A strong, resilient, and equitable food system can begin to address many of these harms.

To improve our food system, and together with incredible partners and co-counsel, the Clinic has revised cities’ zoning ordinances to promote urban agriculture and farmers markets, published papers to protect pollinators and discourage pesticide use, ensured implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act safeguards small and midsize farms across the country, decreased barriers to land access for beginning and minority famers, removed legal barriers to community and commercial composting in Georgia, renegotiated food procurement contracts to bring local food into school cafeterias, partnered with the Working Farms Fund and Emory to build a more resilient local food system, and assessed mechanisms ranging from legal mandates to innovative anaerobic digesting to decrease food waste.

We’re honored much of this work has received national attention and was featured in the University of California’s Global Food Initiative report, Food Equity, Social Justice, and the Role of Law Schools: A Call to Action.

Natural Resources

At the heart of any public interest environmental law organization’s mission is protecting and restoring our natural environment. The Turner Environmental Law Clinic is dedicated to filling gaps left by other extraordinary organizations to ensure our environment and communities are protected, and we are ready to jump in where we’re needed. Together with incredible partners and co-counsel, the Clinic has filed comments on proposed regulations that fail to protect our natural resources, used the Freedom of Information Act to bring to light critical information regarding the Department of Interior’s failure to protect public lands, filed amicus briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals, highlighting important administrative law and conservation issues, developed legal strategies for addressing coal ash pollution, prepared a report for Congress that explains the importance of NEPA, published a Community Guide to Environmental Protection and Justice in Georgia, and encouraged EPA to strengthen its lead standards to better protect children.