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Public Interest Law Project

Miles Johnson

October 10, 2011

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Greater Yellowstone Coalition

Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Driggs, ID

After just one year at Lewis and Clark, the PILP program enabled me spend the summer working on the very issues that brought me to law school in the first place.  My background is in fisheries science, and I came to law school, in large part, to continue working on fisheries and water issues in the West.  As an intern with Greater Yellowstone Coalition, my main task was to investigate and oppose the construction of a proposed hydro-electric dam on the Bear River in southeastern Idaho.  This assignment allowed me to advocate for the preservation of native fish species and wild, free-flowing rivers.  I would ask for nothing more than to work on similar issues for the rest of my legal career. 

Beyond allowing me to work on issues that I care about, interning with GYC exposed me to the process by which the federal government decides whether to allow the construction new hydro-electric dams.  This regulatory process involves several federal and state natural resource agencies and is governed by the Federal Hydropower Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, state and inter-state water rights, elements of contract law, and a host of agency rules.  It was my job to research all of the possible legal challenges to the proposed hydro-electric dam and analyze whether GYC could or should pursue those remedies. 

The PILP program allowed me to spend my 1L summer learning the intricacies of the hydro-electric licensing process—a complex administrative proceeding that I will almost certainly encounter again.  More broadly, this experience helped me to refine my legal research and writing skills in a real-world context through writing memos and drafting comments to various natural resource agencies.  But for PILP’s generous support, this exciting and valuable experience would have been unavailable to me.

 

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