Center for Land, Environment, and Natural Resources

The Center for Land, Environment, and Natural Resources (CLEANR) at UCI Law had a banner year in 2023. Importantly, Dr. Gregg Macey was promoted to serve as the Director of CLEANR, working with Faculty Director Alejandro Camacho and the Faculty Advisory Committee to promote innovative research and catalyze policy action in environmental and land use law. Dr. Macey, on leave from his position as Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School, has invigorated CLEANR’s work on a diverse range of environmental issues. The Center now works with over 70 individuals and organizations in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley (and counting!). In addition, Dr. Macey spearheaded research and organization of community-based research programs that acquired over $7 million in research funds in 2023 alone.

One of these research projects is the Integrated and Equitable Climate Action (IECA) program. IECA carries out applied research, policy drafting, and dispute resolution to align local land use plans with state climate objectives and mandates as well as innovations from other jurisdictions. IECA’s mission is to ensure that a growing number of California’s 478 municipal governments and 58 counties are at the forefront of state climate policy integration, while assuring compliance with civil rights laws.

In addition, CLEANR is a partner in the Wildland-Urban Interface Climate Action Network (WUICAN), a unique array of experts from environmental science, social science, law, and the humanities as well as land managers and tribal leaders. Dr. Macey serves as Co-PI on WUICAN, which partners with community groups, tribes, and management agencies to create knowledge and policy solutions that ensure a resilient relationship between society and wild landscapes that experience unprecedented climate events.

Dr. Macey also created the Community Environmental Research Accelerator (CERA), which brings resources, convening power, legal, policy, and scientific research, and the attention of government, community organizations, science and media, and foundations and donors to bear to build communities of practice to carry out undone science. Each year, CERA identifies an area of undone science in close collaboration with community partners; in 2024, Dr. Macey will work with Environmental Working Group scientists and leadership on pesticide use and community protection. Together, CERA and EWG will organize (1) a government-facing policy design process to identify, develop, and address regulatory gaps and challenges; (2) a community-facing effort to consolidate community and Indigenous knowledge and existing attempts to address undone science among university, non-profit, and community science networks; and (3) joint research to assist emergent communities of practice that have begun to gather, transform, and analyze relevant data through public records requests, geospatial analysis, investigative reporting, community science, participation in government-sanctioned processes, and other means.

In 2023, Dr. Macey also carried out over 75 interviews and extensive legal and qualitative research for projects on which he serves as Co-PI with Sierra Club, Earthjustice, regional environmental justice organizations, engineering and social science faculty, and the Institute for Transportation Studies that concern transportation and infrastructure equity, air quality and goods movement, and environmental data and community science; findings are under review at journals.

Dr. Macey also founded the Coastal Justice Lab, which partners with organizations such as Azul, Surfrider Foundation, California Coastal Commission and State Lands Commission on a variety of projects.

CLEANR also is working with a statewide coalition of community organizations on pesticide reform and farmworker health. Dr. Macey interviewed dozens of farmworkers and regulatory experts, hosted a People’s Tribunal on Pesticide Reform and Civil Rights in California attended by over 100 farmworkers and their families in the Central Valley, and drafted an Advisory Opinion that will form the basis for civil rights complaints.

Finally, Dr. Macey was invited to serve on steering committees for the Summit on Climate and Environmental Justice, Racism, and the Law; CLIMATE Justice; and ASCE’s Committee on Future Weather and Climate Extremes

Environmental Law Clinic

Now in its thirteenth year, the Environmental Law Clinic continues to work alongside and represent local, regional, and national non-profit organizations advocating to enhance and protect the environment and community health on a wide range of matters in California and beyond. Recent clinic work has included litigation and counseling on matters that involve wildlife habitat and corridors, fisheries policy (in partnership with the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre), protection of sacred cultural lands and resources, and community health and welfare. In 2023, longstanding clinic clients saw the successful culmination of multi-year policy and litigation matters in which the Environmental Law Clinic was proud to have played a part. Of course, other similar multi-year matters continue. Looking forward, the Environmental Law Clinic expects to continue last year’s collaboration with UCI Law’s Civil Rights Litigation Clinic on climate and other important cross-over matters.


Alejandro Camacho


In 2023, Alejandro Camacho published In the Anthropocene: Adaptive Law, Ecological Health, and Biotechnologies. The article, published in the European journal Law, Innovation & Technology, explores how prevailing laws, processes, and institutions in Western legal regimes are poorly designed to manage emerging biotechnologies and promote conservation under climate change. He also co-authored two casebooks, Environmental Protection: Law and Policy, Ninth Edition (with Robert L. Glicksman, William W. Buzbee, Daniel R. Mandelker, and Emily Hammond) and Property: Cases & Materials, Fifth Edition (with James Charles Smith and Edward J. Larson). 


Camacho is currently working on writing projects on emerging biotechnologies, the history of environmental law, and tribal adaptation planning, and is a principal or co-investigator on six other ongoing funded research projects. He co-authored comment letters on regulations proposed by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Bureau of Land Management, and he served with others as amicus curiae in environmental law cases before the D.C. Circuit and the Utah and Hawaii Supreme Courts. He was conferred his Chancellor’s Chair at an investiture in April; spoke at conferences and workshops at Lewis and Clark, Oregon, Stanford, and Northwestern, and was interviewed and quoted in news media including Sierra, National Public Radio, and the Washington Post. He proudly serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Progressive Reform, but gratefully stepped down as UCI Law’s Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development in July.  

Joseph DiMento


Joe DiMento continues his work on the Arctic. Polar Shift: The Arctic Sustained was re-published in a new soft cover edition this year. The work was also translated into Russian, and was short listed for the 2023 PS-Banque Postale book award.

His review of WWF and Arctic Environmentalism: Conservationism and the ENGO in the Circumpolar North was published in H-Environment, H-Net Reviews. Related publications include The Concept of Sustainability in International Law: A Research and Policy Bibliography (with Jessica Pierucci) and Arctic Sustainability Law: Almost Sufficient (with Melissa Kelly and Kaitlin O’Donnell).


DiMento’s focus on urban transportation in the 21st century is the basis of a workshop with nationwide experts on the influence of new law and policy on traditional indicators of urban infrastructure effectiveness and on equity in choices of modes and routes, scheduled for spring 2024.


On both his Arctic and urban infrastructure scholarship, DiMento was interviewed and quoted in news media including Reuters and several specialized outlets such as Climate Discourse.

Nicholas Marantz


Nicholas Marantz published a book, Regional Governance and the Politics of Housing in the San Francisco Bay Area, with co-author Paul G. Lewis. The book explains how a decentralized, localistic structure of government shapes land-use politics in ways that exacerbate housing shortages and inequalities. A review in the Journal of Urban Affairs describes the book as "a tightly argued addition to the conversation on land use and housing [which] adds a governance dimension that has been missing." 


Marantz also published two articles on land use governance and accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in California (co-authored with Christopher Elmendorf and Youjin Kim), based on research sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. Since 2016, California has adopted several laws to facilitate the development of ADUs, which are secondary units on residential parcels. One article, published in the Journal of the American Planning Association, provides quantitative tools for state agencies to prioritize review of local plans and zoning ordinances to ensure that municipalities are accommodating ADUs and other forms of housing. Such reviews have become increasingly important in recent years, as states including California, Oregon, and Washington have expanded the supervisory roles of state agencies. A second article, published in Cityscape, the journal of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, analyzes ADU permitting in the Bay Area and southern California under the newly liberalized legal regime. These articles build on material first presented in a policy paper published by the Furman Center.

Carrie Menkel-Meadow


Carrie Menkel-Meadow spent the fall 2023 term (Michaelmas) as a Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Socio-legal Studies at Oxford University where she worked on a number of projects including: an article, “Is Socio-legal Studies a Science?” and completion of a book manuscript, International Dispute Resolution (forthcoming Carolina Press, 2024)  which uses climate change as one of the “wicked problems” to be treated with international dispute resolution processes. She completed a chapter,” Dispute Resolution as Social Justice,” for the Elgar Research Handbook on Civil Justice (edited by Richard Jolly, Anne Bloom and David Engel, due out next year. She also completed a short essay on “dispute resolution” for the Encyclopedia of Law and Peace (edited by Louise Millender).


She is currently completing work on a book chapter on “Multi-stake Mediation” in environmental issues for Fairness and Compliance in Public Participation (edited by Ortwin Renn and Thomas Webler), and another book chapter for the Elgar Research Handbook on the Sociology of Legal Ethics (Scott Cummings, editor) on “Scarlett Letters for Lawyers: Accountability for Representation.”


This fall she was honored with the ADR Hall of Fame Award by the California Lawyer’s Litigation Section. She gave the plenary address at UCSF’s (formerly Hastings) Law School conference on “Diversity and Inclusion in ADR: Reimagining Our Field” on November 3. She was the speaker for the Monthly Breakfast Roundtable for the New York ADR community (on Zoom from Oxford) with hundreds in attendance on “Where Have all the Flowers Gone: A look back and forward for mediation and dispute resolution” and she lectured on socio-legal studies issues and methods at Oxford’s Centre for Socio-legal Studies.

Michael Robinson-Dorn


Michael Robinson-Dorn, who directs the Environmental Law Clinic and serves as Co-Associate Dean for Experiential Education, is taking part in collaborations with colleagues for the US and UK on research and scholarship focusing on manifestations of geography, and of climate on clinical pedagogy.

Heather Tanana

Heather Tanana joined UCI Law as a Visiting Professor. Much of her research centers around tribal water issues, from climate change impacts to Colorado River management. This past year, she published Voices of the River: The Rise of Indigenous Women Leaders in the Colorado River Basin, and Protecting Tribal Health from Climate Change. She served as a co-author on the water chapter for the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Fifth National Climate Assessment Report. Along with a small group of experts, she filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the consolidated cases of Arizona v. Navajo Nation (No. 21-1484) and Dep’t of Interior v. Navajo Nation (No. 22-51). The amicus brief examined the pervasiveness of water insecurity on the Navajo Nation, including the resulting health and economic disparities experienced. Tanana also leads the Universal Access to Clean Water for Tribal Communities initiative. As part of this work, Tanana co-authored various agency comment letters and testified before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on “Water as a Trust Resource: Examining Access in Native Communities."


Tanana has spoken at numerous events, including UCLA, University of Michigan, Society of Environmental Journalists, and the Foundation for Natural Resources and Energy Law. She has been quoted in international, national, and local media, including The Globe and Mail, Al Jazeera, National Public Radio, Washington Post, Fox 13 News, Bloomberg Law News, and Sierra Club Magazine. She serves on the board of directors for Western Resource Advocates and Planet Women, and as Vice-Chair for the AALS Section on Indian Nations & Indigenous Peoples.

Student Leadership at UCI Law and Beyond

Jacob Basta

Jacob Basta’s background includes a dual degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara in philosophy and political science with a concentration in ethics, public policy, and political theory. He has interned in Sacramento for Environment California, a nonprofit environment organization, dedicated to countering the corporate lobby and advancing the public interest by keeping our waters free from plastics. With the help of his team, Jacob was able to see his work take shape as one plastic reduction bill was passed three years after his involvement. Jacob came to law school to continue advancing the public interest and work on a variety of issues concerning equity in a world of shrinking opportunities. In 2023, Jacob clerked for the Honorable Judge Apkarian in the Superior Court of Orange County where he learned the intricacies of dependency. In addition, he carried out pro bono work with the Surfrider Foundation and Lawyers for Good Government. He was an International Justice Clinical Student with a focus on human rights in Afghanistan. And he served as an advanced clinical student on a variety of international issues. Jacob is now a law clerk for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. He hopes to continue his legal education and experience by prosecuting environmental crimes in the county’s consumer and environmental protection unit. 

Isabella Coye

Isabella graduated from UCSB in 2020 with a B.A. in environmental studies and sociology and a strong interest in a career focused on environmental preservation. She sees a career in environmental law as allowing her to combine her excitement for environmental advocacy with a strong background in research and writing. She applied for law school and began her studies at Lewis & Clark Law School in 2021. In 2022, Isabella transferred to UC Irvine School of Law to pursue a career focused on environmental and coastal protection in California, where she grew up and first fell in love with stunning yet threatened environments that are unique to the state. In 2023, Isabella worked with the environmental practices of both the government agencies and public interest law firms. She spent two semester-long clerkships with Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP, externed with the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit, and began a clerkship with the Chatten-Brown Law Group. In addition, she took on the role of Executive Editor for the UC Irvine Law Review, which allowed her to connect even further with the UC Irvine community. Isabella also joined the Environmental Law Society’s (ELS) Board as Director of Outreach. The ELS Board hosted numerous engaging events throughout the year—for both the ELS community and beyond. She is now preparing to speak at UC Irvine School of Law’s Martin Luther King Teach-In in early 2024.

Andrew Hallak

Andrew Hallak explores the human-environment relationship to understand how transboundary water resources can serve as a tool for cooperation rather than conflict. Drawing inspiration from his family’s experiences as Palestinian refugees, Andrew’s dedication is fueled by his tenure as a former student diplomat in the Middle East and South Caucasus with organizations at the University of California. After completing two years in UC Irvine’s Urban Planning and Public Policy Ph.D. program, Andrew declared a concurrent J.D./Ph.D. to bridge theoretical knowledge of environmental governance with the practicalities of law. He was drawn to UC Irvine School of Law because of its strong interdisciplinary focus on public interest and environmental law, coupled with experiential learning opportunities provided through clinical and pro bono programs and research centers such as The Center for Land, Environment & Natural Resources. Currently, he is researching policy and governance innovations to address water scarcity in the Western United States and the Middle East. His objective is to contribute to multi-level and inclusive policy decision-making processes, facilitating the peaceful resolution of resource conflicts by integrating insights from policy analysis, political science, and legal studies. In 2023, Andrew served as a summer clerk at the Land Use and Conservation section of the Division of Public Rights at the California Office of the Attorney General. He assisted in affirmative and defensive litigation research assignments on fair housing and California Coastal Act matters. Andrew was also recognized as a 2023 California Lawyers Association Diversity and Inclusion Fellow. Andrew held a research assistant position with Professor Camacho, focusing on procedural aspects of Tribal conservation governance. He was also an advanced student in the International Justice Clinic, where he traveled to Tanzania to build coalitions with civil society members affected by spyware. Through this work, he will co-host a summit on spyware in sub-Saharan Africa and present findings at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva. He also serves as Vice Chair of the Environmental Law Society at UCI, helping host events and mentoring law students interested in environmental law. Andrew is also a board member of the Middle East and South Asian Law Student Association and the UCI Admissions Ambassador program. This summer, Andrew is excited to work as a summer intern at Willkie, Farr & Gallagher LLP’s Los Angeles Real Estate practice group.

Madelyn Sickle

Prior to law school, Madelyn worked for a small surf shop in Seattle, Washington. Surfing in the Northwest and connecting with environmental interest groups there inspired her to go to law school. She was drawn to UC Irvine School of Law because of its reputation as a public interest law school and its numerous environmental offerings. She has been able to engage with a variety of environmental courses, professional experiences, and extracurricular activities that helped prepare her for a career in environmental law. Some of those activities include pro bono work for Orange County Coastkeeper, interning for the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Environmental Protection Unit, and serving on the board of the Environmental Law Society. In 2023, she served as Chair of the Environmental Law Society, where she planned programming and developed professional resources for interested students. Throughout the year, she enjoyed environmental law classes including Animal Law, Ocean and Coastal Law, and International Environmental Law. She also assisted Professor Camacho with his research regarding the history of American environmental policy and Tribal Nations' climate adaptation plans. During the spring, she worked in the Environmental Law Clinic where she gained litigation and advocacy experience. From May to December, she interned with Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting our oceans and beaches. Before the internship, she fit in a trip to New Zealand. It was an amazing experience with a lot of spectacular natural scenes. This photo was from Lake Manapouri, a place of rich environmental activist history.

Shelby Slaughter

Shelby Slaughter is a second-year law student at UC Irvine Law and an aspiring environmental lawyer. Before she attended law school, she studied environmental science and engineering at UCLA, where she led a student research team that examined energy regulatory compliance and industrial impacts on Indigenous populations. After graduating, she worked for a communications consulting firm that focused on sustainability and social impact in woman-owned businesses. During her time at UC Irvine, she was active in the First Generation Professionals Program and Real Estate and Land Use student group and completed over 50 hours of pro bono education casework. In 2023, she interned for the Los Angeles County Counsel’s Office in its Property Division, where she researched issues related to the Subdivision Map Act, conditional use permits, and land use. She worked as a Research Assistant to Professor Joe DiMento examining arctic environmental law issues. Shelby is an Environmental Law Fellow at UC Irvine School of Law. She now works as a Research Assistant for Dr. Gregg Macey at the Center for Land, Environment & Natural Resources on projects related to their Integrated and Equitable Climate Action initiative. She looks forward to contributing to various upcoming projects as part of UC Irvine School of Law’s Environmental Law Clinic.

Danielle Strauss

Danielle Straus is a 2L at UC Irvine School of Law. They look forward to dedicating their life to a career in environmental law and justice initiatives. Dan was always interested in the environment and inequality within their community and the greater geopolitical landscape. Dan grew up in San Diego and went to school in Maine, where they studied environmentalism through the lens of English literature and theory, thinking critically about how the English language and structural forces shape the way we regard and care for land and other beings. Shifting to law, Dan is interested in studying how our legal system enables inequalities, and what can be done to better our world through use of the legal system. From their pro bono experience working on Tribal Sovereignty initiatives for the Environmental Law Institute to experience in environmental litigation for the Civil Rights Litigation Clinic, Dan explores and gains experience in every corner of environmental law possible. In 2023, Dan worked for the federal government in an internship for the Department of Energy and their Office of Civil Rights and Equal Enforcement. They worked on workers’ rights movement-oriented initiatives via clinic work for the Workers’ Law and Organizing Clinic. Dan continues their clinic work as an advanced student for the Civil Rights Litigation Clinic, with cases that involve consumer environmental litigation, EPA and the Children’s Trust, and Tribal Nations. Additionally, Dan is involved in a research project about the Wildlife-Urban Interface and environmental preparedness within local and state governments through their work with the Environmental Law Practicum. As a member of the UC Irvine Law Review, Dan contributed to the editorial process for publication of Volume 14, and is currently working on Volume 15. As Director of Communications for the Environmental Law Society at UC Irvine School of Law, Dan is involved in planning the law school’s Global Day of Action. Most recently, Dan presented with other members of ELS on Toxic Exposure and Land Use Failures in Communities of Color as a part of the law school’s Martin Luther King Jr. Teach-in for Justice. Dan will clerk this summer for Earthjustice’s Florida Regional Office.

Vanessa Vasquez

Vanessa Vasquez is a Chicana from El Monte, California. She is the first in her family to attend law school. For most of her childhood, she had the opportunity to play softball and visit National Parks throughout the western United States. This instilled within her a love for outdoor activities and an appreciation for diverse ecosystems. She completed her undergraduate education at the University of California, Riverside where she double-majored in Public Policy and Political Science/Law and Society. At UC Riverside, she discovered that she wanted to pursue a career in environmental law with a focus on toxic substances, environmental justice, and habitat conservation. Vanessa chose to attend UC Irvine School of Law due to its public interest focus and environmental law faculty. She serves as the Chair of the Environmental Law Society and the Social Chair for the Latinx Law Students Association. She is also involved in the Public Interest Law Fund, Native American Law Students Association, and First Generation Professionals Program. In 2023, Vanessa worked on pro bono matters for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), with a focus on energy issues. She participates in UC Irvine School of Law’s Environmental Law Clinic. Vanessa was selected as one of the law school’s Class of 2025 Environmental Law Scholars. During Summer 2023, she worked at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California in the Environmental Crimes and Consumer Protection Section. She helped organize and lead ELS’s first general meeting, Student Law Clinic Global Day of Action activities, an Environmental Law Career Panel, and a breakout discussion for the law school’s Martin Luther King Jr. Teach-In for Justice. She also helped the ELS board establish a mentorship program and compile a list of monthly environmental news items for its members. She looks forward to serving as a Research Assistant for the Center for Land, Environment & Natural Resources. Vanessa was also awarded a 2024 Fellowship from the California Lawyers Association Environmental Law Section Diversity & Inclusion Fellowship Program. She will clerk for Earthjustice this summer.

Nathan Wong

Nathan Wong, a San Gabriel Valley native, is the first in his family to attend law school. Growing up in a low-income immigrant family, Nathan first became aware of the environmental injustices affecting his family as his aunts and grandmother recounted their daily struggles to breathe air that contained high concentrations of dust and chemical pollution from L.A. sweatshops. He wanted to understand the relationship between decisions made by government agencies and the private sector and the public health and environmental harms that disproportionately affect poor and marginalized communities. After completing his undergraduate studies at UC Davis, Nathan selected UC Irvine School of Law for its environmental clinical program, faculty, and research opportunities regarding land use and environmental justice through the Center for Land, Environment & Natural Resources. He is grateful to continue work on climate justice as a research assistant for the environmental law center. While at the law school, he served as Vice Chair of the Environmental Law Society. He has also worked with the California Attorney General’s Land Use and Conservation section, Earthjustice’s California Regional Office, and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. In 2023, he engaged with state consumer protection laws and learned from class action attorneys in the Environmental Law Clinic. He co-authored a complaint that concerned the practice of greenwashing. Under the direction of Professor Nicholas Marantz, he wrote a comprehensive paper that to reconcile two potentially conflicting goals in California: reducing transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions while affirmatively furthering fair housing at the regional level. During his summer at Earthjustice, he collaborated with the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, where he advocated for more stringent measures to protect public health and met regularly with community leaders. I also conducted multi-state research on regulatory gaps governing carbon dioxide pipelines, authoring a comment letter, and testified at an EPA hearing to support the California Air Resources Board’s rule to transition small offroad engines to zero emissions. He externed with the California Department of Substances Control, where he supported attorneys in their investigation and enforcement of hazardous waste laws. And he contributed to Professor Joseph DiMento’s research on urban freeways and their impacts on marginalized communities.

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