Tess Mackey, Virginia Sea Grant Correspondent
Toren Elsen joined the Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic this fall after working five years as a paralegal at Beveridge & Diamond environmental law firm in Washington, DC, and spending last summer with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Enforcement Division. Elsen hopes to gain practical experience with local government agencies through his work with the Clinic.
“The Clinic is one of the standout environmental programs that William & Mary has to offer,” says Elsen.
This fall, he will also work with the Virginia Environmental Endowment, a foundation that provides grants for environmental work in the state, to analyze Supplemental Environment Projects (SEPs).
SEPs “offer a really good potential way to have enforcement actions help the environment instead of only being a punishment,” says Elsen. SEPs offer an additional tool for the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Environmental Quality when seeking compliance with environmental regulations. They do so by allowing those who are not in compliance to dedicate funds to complete a project that will improve the environment, as part of the resolution of the enforcement action against them.
The Endowment would like to place itself in a competitive position to receive these funds and improve the SEPs process. Elsen will help by creating a database of all the SEPs in Virginia over the past 10 years and writing a memorandum for the Virginia Environmental Endowment analyzing the implementation of the projects and their future role in increasing the efficiency of the system.
Elsen is from Boulder, CO, and completed his undergraduate studies at Vassar College with a double major in environmental studies and geography. He is in his second year at the William & Mary Law School where he also serves as Research Assistant to VCPC Director, Roy Hoagland. Last year, he provided administrative assistance to the Clinic under its former Director.