As a Summer Honors Intern with the Office of General Counsel at United States Environmental Protection Agency, Drake Law student Emily Ertel helped create and shape environmental law.
The Office of General Counsel is the chief legal adviser to EPA and provides legal support for Agency rules and policies, case-by-case decisions, and legislation. As a Summer Honors Intern, Ertel was assigned to the Water Law division, where she worked on a diverse group of projects.
Her first project involved research for a brief that the Department of Justice was working on for the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in the Mingo Logan/Spruce Mine case. In this case, EPA tried to withdraw a specified disposal site for a Clean Water Act section 404 permit after the permit was issued.
Another of Ertel’s projects was based on the fallout of the Sackett decision by the Supreme Court. Due to administrative compliance orders being reviewable in court, there were, and are still many, questions EPA has to confront. Ertel was charged with researching and presenting analysis in a memorandum on some of these issues.
Ertel stated that through her internship she was “able to gain experience in rulemaking and see the rulemaking process within the agency and at the same time be involved in litigation.”
Ertel credits Drake Law for helping prepare her for her duties as a Summer Honors Intern.
“Drake’s outstanding legal research and writing program familiarized me with the sources I needed to consult and also the process I should go through to ensure I found all of the relevant information,” she said. “Moreover, the environmental law classes at Drake provided me with a solid background in a survey of environmental law and allowed me to become familiar with section 404 permitting under the Clean Water Act, which was the bulk of my work this past summer. Plus, because class was practice-oriented, it allowed me to develop my skills in thinking through various legal issues and arguments that could be made on different sides.”
Upon graduation, Ertel hopes to obtain a judicial clerkship and then practice in environmental law for the government at either the state or federal level.