Center for Progressive Reform

Clifford Rechtschaffen

Clifford Rechtschaffen is a former Member Scholar of the Center for Progressive Reform

He is Professor and Director of the Environmental Law Program at Golden Gate University School of Law, and is also Co-Director of Golden Gate's Environmental Law and Justice Clinic. Golden Gate's environmental law program has been ranked among the top 20 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in two of the past four years.   He is currently on academic leave, while serving as Special Assistant to the California Attorney General on Climate Change.

Professor Rechtschaffen has taught a variety of environmental, toxics, natural resource, and environmental clinical courses for the past ten years. He has written in the areas of environmental enforcement, federal/state relations, environmental justice, information disclosure and right-to-know laws, and control of lead-based paint poisoning.

Professor Rechtschaffen co-founded in 1994 and co-directs Golden Gate's in-house Environmental Law and Justice Clinic, which provides direct representation to low-income communities and communities of color on environmental justice, public health, toxics, and air quality matters. The clinic has received awards from the American Bar Association, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Professor Rechtschaffen is an active member of the California League for Environmental Enforcement Now (CLEEN), which coordinates legislative, administrative, and litigation efforts on behalf of environmental groups engaged in Proposition 65 enforcements. (Proposition 65 is an anti-toxics initiative passed by California voters in 1986.)

Professor Rechtschaffen served from 1994 to 1997 as a member of the Advisory and Drafting Committees of Lead Safe California, a multi-stakeholder group convened to address the problem of lead-based paint poisoning. In that role he helped draft a comprehensive California lead-poisoning prevention statute, and testified in support of it to numerous stakeholder meetings and before the California legislature.

Professor Rechtschaffen helped draft legislation in 1999 requiring California to publish an annual state of the environment report (passed by the legislature but vetoed by Governor Gray Davis). He has advised the election campaigns of Governor Davis in 1998 and Attorney General Bill Lockyer in 1998 and 2002 on environmental issues. He has been an informal consultant to the California Attorney General's Office Task Force on Environmental Justice. He served as a consultant on environmental justice issues to the California Department of Health Services Electric and Magnetic Field Risk Evaluation project.

Professor Rechtschaffen is a volunteer mediator for environmental cases with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. He serves on the Executive Committee of the California State Bar Environmental Law Section, which consists of approximately 2,500 attorneys in the state.

Prior to becoming a professor at Golden Gate, Professor Rechtschaffen worked for seven years in the Environment Section of the California Attorney General's Office. In that role he litigated cases involving the National Environmental Policy Act, the California Environmental Quality Act, wetlands, air toxics, hazardous waste law, and state and federal Superfund laws. He was also one of three lawyers representing the state in defending and enforcing California's landmark right-to-know toxics initiative, Proposition 65. Professor Rechtschaffen also was a Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer ("Reggie") Fellow with the Legal Aid Society of Marin County from 1985 to 1986, and a law clerk to Judge Thelton Henderson, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, from 1984 to 1985.

Before law school Professor Rechtschaffen served as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Donald Stewart (Alabama) from 1978 to 1980, with responsibility for housing, urban development, and related issues. Professor Rechtschaffen also worked as a program consultant for Rural America, a public interest and advocacy group representing low income residents in rural communities, and as a field liaison for Common Cause, working on sunshine in government and campaign financing issues.

Professor Rechtschaffen has published widely, including two recent books. The first, Environmental Justice: Law, Policy and Regulation (with Professor Eileen Gauna), is a comprehensive casebook about environmental justice, a significant and dynamic contemporary development in environmental law. The second, Reinventing Environmental Enforcement and the State/Federal relationship (with Dave Markell), explores the current debates about shifting environmental enforcement from a deterrence-based approach to one emphasizing cooperation, and devolving greater environmental enforcement authority to the states from the federal government.

Professor Rechtschaffen has testified before the California Legislature about the State's Superfund law and about a proposed Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act. He has helped organize numerous community and professional workshops about environmental justice. He also organized and conducted a training session about lead poisoning forCalifornia judges and court commissioners.

Clifford Rechtschaffen
Golden Gate University School of Law
San Francisco, CA 
515.442 6674

On Academic Leave serving in the California Attorney General's office.

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© Center for Progressive Reform, 2013