My experience at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) this past summer was great. I worked at the central office in Richmond, VA in the enforcement division. More specifically, I worked closely with the waste enforcement manager. Though my internship only lasted six weeks I was able to gain valuable experience and I learned a lot about environmental law and administrative law.
I was able to see how a state administrative agency worked. I attended citizen board meetings. These meeting are comprised of state citizens that were appointed by the governor in order to establish an additional check on the agency. I attended both the State Water Control Board and the Air Pollution Control Board meetings. During the meetings the board reviewed and approved recent agency enforcement orders. This was a particularly educational experience because I was not aware these boards existed. Additionally after learning about administrative agencies during my administrative law course in the spring semester, it was cool to see the other branches of government utilize our system of checks and balances to control the agency.
Another experience, I enjoyed was going to visit a site for a live wetland enforcement action. This visit exposed me to the reality of environmental law. I was able to see in person the effects of a responsible party filling in a wetland and the agency’s response. It was also important because it demonstrated that not all interactions with responsible parties are adversarial. In this particular action the agency and the responsible party worked extremely well together. Both sides were able to negotiate an outcome that satisfied their needs.
My experience this summer was something that I will never forget. Working in environmental law was great exposure to a growing field that is so important to our lives. I enjoyed learning and reading more about environmental regulations and laws. The DEQ staff were all so welcoming and taught me a lot. I would recommend any student to take an internship at this office if they are interested in environmental law!
The A. Paul Knight program was established in memory of Paul Knight of the class of 1986. Paul was the son of Gail and Albert F. Knight, '51L. Paul was an anthropology major who had worked with Professor John McDaniel on several field projects in archaeology. The program is designed to fund projects that further the protection of the environment or provide ecologically sound outdoor recreational opportunities. All Washington and Lee students, in both the undergraduate and law schools are eligible to participate in the program as interns in the projects.