Photo: Eileen Gauna

Eileen Gauna

Professor Emerita


  • B.U.S. 1976, J.D. 1985; The University of New Mexico
  • Member of the New Mexico Bar

Contact Information

 Ph.: 505-277-0377
 Office: Office: Emeriti Suite Rm. 3226


Eileen Gauna joined the UNM law faculty in 2006 and retired in July 2016, although she continues to teach courses. She brings experience in the national environmental policy arena to her teaching. Professor Gauna is a member of the American Law Institute, a member scholar of the Center for Progressive Reform and is the Dean Designate to the New Mexico Compilation Commission.

Professor Gauna's scholarship is primarily about environmental justice issues; she co-authored a widely used course book in the area. She worked closely with agencies, educational institutions, non-profits and environmental justice organizations throughout United States. She had several tenures on the EPA's National Environmental Justice Advisory Council where she worked collaboratively with a range of stakeholders to submit reports and recommendations to the EPA Administrator, and completed her tenure on an EPA federal advisory committee that examined the applicability of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to environmental permitting. She testified before Congress and was invited to speak at the White House Forum on Environmental Justice. She was a consultant to the New Mexico Environment Department in connection with its environmental justice initiative and co-authored two reports to the Secretary.

Professor Gauna, a New Mexico native, began her legal career in 1985. After a judicial clerkship with Justice Mary C. Walters of the New Mexico Supreme Court, she worked with the Poole law firm in Albuquerque until 1991 when she was appointed to the faculty at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. She has taught courses in environmental law, environmental justice, climate law, energy law, administrative law, and property.


Administrative Law

This basic three hour course in Administrative Law studies the legal functioning of government agencies. Agency actions resemble actions of legislatures and courts, prosecutors and advocates, and "neutral" bodies with highly specialized technical expertise. Consequently, interesting problems of procedure, scope of judicial oversight, fundamental fairness and political influence have arisen and are in tension with each other. We will touch on these issues as we focus on the fundamental principles of Administrative Law. We will use a traditional casebook, focused on federal administrative law - where the core principles have been most fully developed.

Climate Law and Energy

The course will begin with a look at the emerging evidence of climate disruption from man-made causes, also considering the anticipated problems stemming from rising surface temperatures, including physical and sociological impacts as well as national security issues.  We will then examine current proposals for mitigating climate change, including the international, federal, state and local proposals to reduce green house gases, including carbon trading regimes.  The proposals for climate change adaptation will be covered as well.  Mitigation and adaptation strategies will be evaluated using various criteria, such as efficiency, effectiveness, ease of administration and distributional fairness.  The course will also cover climate litigation, including emerging public nuisance claims and climate change issues arising under existing federal environmental statutes.  Lastly, we will also consider current energy policy and how the legal regimes for addressing climate change are likely to impact the energy sector.  The text used will be WOLD, HUNTER AND POWERS, CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE LAW (2009), and evaluation will be by an examination at the end of the semester.  No prerequisite law course is required.

Energy and the Environment

The Energy and Environment is designed primarily to examine the environmental effects of energy policy in the United States and abroad. The course will begin with an examination of market power and regulation of the energy market, including rate regulation principles. In particular, students will consider the use of water, coal, petroleum, natural gas, coal bed methane and nuclear materials for energy production, and the licensing, siting and environmental issues involved. Also covered in the course will be global energy related issues, including climate change, protection of fragile environments and human rights issues. The course also looks at emerging energy production alternatives such as cool and hot renewables, energy conservation, and green programs. The text used will be Bosselman, et. al., Energy, Economics and the Environment (3rd Ed), and evaluation will be by an examination at the end of the semester.

Environmental Justice Writing Seminar

Environmental justice is a significant and dynamic contemporary development in environmental law.
This writing seminar will focus upon the environmental justice movement and theway that people of color, the poor, indigenous communities and tribal governments have challenged the fundamental ideologies that support environmental policy and regulation. The course begins with an examination of various conceptions of justice, studies about disparities in environmental harms and benefits, and theories concerning the causes of such inequities. Seminar participants will then examine class and racial inequities in a variety of regulatory contexts, including risk assessment, standard setting, permitting, enforcement and the cleanup of contaminated lands. The course concludes with a look at various legal

tools used in the effort to achieve environmental justice, including citizen suit enforcement of environmental laws, claims brought under the Equal Protection Clause and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, and various non-litigation strategies, including land use and planning tools, disclosure laws, and collaborative projects. Students will be required to write a research paper on an aspect of environmental justice that may meet the writing requirement of this two or three unit course.

The text used will be Rechtschaffen, Gauna and O'Neill, ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE: LAW, POLICY AND REGULATION (2ND Ed. 2009).

Environmental Justice, Climate and Disasters Writing Seminar

What are "super wicked problems," "no analogue futures," "black swan events," and "toxic hot spots"? These are recently minted terms that are used to describe issues arising in the field of environmental justice, climate law, and an emerging area of study colloquially termed "disaster law." What these issues have in common is first, collectively they describe a set of problems that tend to be interrelated and reinforce each other. Secondly, these issues individually challenge existing legal frameworks designed to address more conventional environmental problems. This seminar will examine some of these issues, including the emerging evidence of climate disruption from man-made causes and international, federal and New Mexico climate initiatives. Students will also examine disasters from a national perspective and how New Mexico is attempting to address these issues. More broadly, the course focuses on how climate disruption, climate policy and disasters may disparately impact people of color and the poor. The paper submitted for this class may be used to satisfy part of the writing requirement for law school graduation. There is no text for this course; instead a packet of course materials will be provided, which will be supplemented throughout the semester.

Environmental Law Survey

This course is designed to give students an introductory working knowledge of the major federal environmental laws addressing toxic substances, waste management, air pollution, water pollution, environmental impact assessment, and biodiversity. Some of these laws are implemented by state regulatory agencies (e.g., the New Mexico Environment Department) and have state law counterparts. Fundamentally, environmental regulation reflects a delicate balance among conflicting ecological, social justice and economic values. Active citizen involvement presents challenges to technology-oriented regulatory agencies. Scientific uncertainty and the global scale of climate disruption also present special complications. This course will examine these and other contemporary issues in environmental regulation.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Students will: (a) understand how the different environmental laws are structured and the range of regulatory strategies they use to address environmental problems; (b) learn to recognize actionable “triggers” under various regulatory regimes; and (c) be familiar with the regulatory processes that could pertain to the plans and actions of a potential client.

Environmental Law Moot Court Competition

The National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition is an annual inter-law school appellate moot court competition sponsored by Pace University School of Law. The number of teams typically ranges from 65 to 75 teams. The purpose of the competition is to develop expertise in environmental law appellate advocacy. The annual problem typically involves three parties: industry, government and an environmental protection group, and includes a variety of environmental law statutory issues, administrative law issues and common law claims.

Samantha Ruscavage Barz

Students who are eligible
2L and 3L students only

Dates and timeline overview
Each team will write a brief for one of the respective party’s legal argument. The problem typically arrives at the end of September and the brief is due around the first part of December. Each team will participate in oral argument (as one of three adverse parties). The competition takes place around the third week of February at Pace Law School in White Plains, NY.
Registration is limited to one team per school, two or three students on the team.

Try out details
If there are more than three interested students, there may be an internal tryout competition that may involve writing a mini-brief on an environmental issue and an oral argument judged by local lawyers. 

What to expect
The issues in this specialized area are generally technically and legally complex and involve three distinct interest groups. The time commitment is substantial. The brief, due the first part of December, cannot have any participation or input by anyone other than the team members. There will be at least 10 practice oral argument sessions, lasting about two hours each. Because attorneys volunteer for these sessions, they will often be held at night or during the weekend. In January and during the first two weeks in February, students can expect three practice sessions per week.

Property I

This first year course is an introduction to the basic concepts of property law, focusing on the role of possession in allocating the various rights and responsibilities connected with personal and real property. The course covers acquisition of initial property rights, adverse possession, donative transfers, the evolution and nomenclature of interests in estates in land and future interest, concurrent property rights, and takings.

Property II

Primarily focuses on private land-use arrangements (especially non-possessory interests in land such as easements, real covenants, and equitable servitudes). Other topics include landlord/tenant law, problems arising in the contract for sale of land, methods of title assurance (including the operation of the recording acts). Focus is on general theory and practice, with side-glances at New Mexico law for illustrative purposes.


Books & Book Chapters

Federal Environmental Justice Policy in Permitting, Failed Promises: Evaluating the Federal Government's Response to Environmental Justice (David Konisky ed., 2015).
Available at: UNM-DR

Environmental Justice: Law, Policy and Environmental Protection (2nd ed. 2009) (co-authored with Rechtschaffen, Gauna and O'Neill).
Available at: UNM-DR

Racial Minorities Suffer Disproportionately From Toxic Landfills, Garbage and Recycling (2007) (co-authored with Sheila Foster).
Available at: UNM-DR

Environmental Justice in a Dryland Democracy: A Comment on Water Basin Institutions, Wet Growth, Should Water Law Control Land Use? (Craig Arnold ed., 2005).
Available at: UNM-DR


Environmental Law, Civil Rights and Sustainability: Three Frameworks for Environmental Justice, 19 J. ENVTL. & SUSTAINABILITY L. 34 (2012).
Available at: UNM-DR

Selected Addresses [American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources Symposium], 81 MISSISSIPPI L.J. 657 (2012).
Available at: UNM-DR

El Dia de los Muertos, the Death and Rebirth of the Environment Movement, 38 ENVTL. L. 457 (2008).
Available at: UNM-DR

LNG Facility Siting and Environmental (In)Justice: Is it Time for a National Siting Scheme?, 2 ENVTL. & ENERGY L. & POL'Y J. 85 (2007).
Available at: UNM-DR

Environmental Justice, A CENTER FOR PROGRESSIVE REGULATION WHITE PAPER (March 2005) (co-authored with Catherine A. O'Neill & Clifford Rechtschaffen).
Available at: UNM-DR

An Essay on Environmental Justice: The Past, the Present, and Back to the Future, 42 NAT. RESOURCES J. 701 (2002).
Available at: NRJ

Farmworkers as an Environmental Justice Issue: Similarities and Differences, 25 ENVIRONS 67 (2002).
Available at: UNM-DR

EPA at Thirty: Fairness in Environmental Protection, 31 ENVTL. L. REP. 10528 (2001).
Available at: UNM-DR

A Survey of Federal Agency Responses to President Clinton’s Executive Order Number 12898 on Environmental Justice, 31 ENVTL. L. REP. 11133 (2001) (co-authored).
Available at: UNM-DR

The Environmental Justice Misfit: Public Participation and the Paradigm Paradox, 17 STANFORD ENVTL L.J. 3 (1998).
Available at: UNM-DR

Major Sources of Criteria Pollutants in Nonattainment Areas: Balancing the Goals of Clean Air, Industrial Development, and Environmental Justice, 3 HASTINGS W.-NW. J. of ENVTL. & POL'Y 379 (1996).
Available at: UNM-DR

Federal Environmental Citizen Provisions, Obstacles and Incentives on the Road to Environmental Justice, 22 ECOLOGY L.Q. 1 (1995).
Available at: UNM-DR


Protecting Public Health and the Environment by the Stroke of a Presidential Pen: Seven Executive Orders for the President's First 100 Days, CENTER FOR PROGRESSIVE REFORM 1 (2008).
Available at: UNM-DR

The Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, An Unnatural Disaster, CENTER FOR PROGRESSIVE REFORM 1 (2005).
Available at: UNM-DR

Environmental Justice: Stakes, Stakeholders, Strategies, 30 HUMAN RIGHTS 2 (2003) (co-authored with Shiela Foster).
Available at: UNM-DR


Dickason Professor

Federal Environmental Citizen Provisions, Obstacles and Incentives on the Road to Environmental Justice, 22 ECOLOGY L.Q. 1 (1995). Included in 1996 Land Use & Environment Law Review's list of 30 best articles of the year in the environmental and land use area.