Member Information

James Robert May

Widener University School of Law

4601 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE19803

James R. May, Esq. is Distinguished Professor of Law, Founder of the Global Environmental Rights Institute, and co-Founder of the Dignity Rights Project at Widener University. May is the President and co-Founder of Dignity Rights International, and a Board member of the Normandy Chair for Peace, the Earth Law Center, and Delaware GreenWatch. He serves as the Special Representative on Harmony With Nature for the International Council of Environmental Law, and chairs the American Bar Association Section on Environment, Energy and Resources Task Force on Environmental Justice. He is an inductee of the American College of Environmental Lawyers, the Delaware Valley Environmental Inn of Court, the National Judicial College, and Phi Kappa Phi. May has published widely in Environmental Human Rights, including Encyclopedia of Human Rights and the Environment (2020), Environmental Rights The Development of Standards (2019), Judicial Handbook on Environmental Constitutionalism (3d. Ed. 2019), Judicial Handbook on Environmental Constitutionalism Compendium of Cases (2d ed. 2019), Implementing Environmental Constitutionalism (2018), The Future of Sustainable Energy, (2016), New Frontiers in Environmental Constitutionalism (2016), Environmental Constitutionalism (2016), Global Environmental Constitutionalism (Cambridge 2015), and Principles of Constitutional Environmental Law (2011). He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including from the Sierra Club, American Canoe Association, and Pace University Haub School of Law, and LawDragon as one of the worlds most influential environmental lawyers. ***

Work Phone:

EPA Region:
Region 3 – (DE, MD, PA, VA, WV & 7 federally recognized tribes)
Year of induction:
-LL.M., Haub School of Law, Pace University (1991) -J.D., University of Kansas (1989) -B.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Kansas (1985)
Pennsylvania Kansas (inactive)
Court Admissions:
PA (active) KS (inactive) U.S. Supreme Court U.S. Federal Court of Appeals for the 3rd, 5th, 9th and 11th Circuits various federal district courts
Professional Societies and Organizations:
Representative for Right of Nature, International Council of Environmental Law, 2020- Board, Normandy Chair for Peace, 2020- Co-chair, Global Reach Committee, American College of Environmental Lawyers (2014-2018) Member, Governors Conference on Mid-Atlantic Ocean Issues, 2005-2007 American Bar Association, Section on Environment, Energy and Resources Chair, Task Force on Environmental Justice, American Bar Association Section on Environment, Energy and Resources, 2020- Co-chair, Committee on Professional Responsibility, American Bar Association Section on Environment, Energy and Resources, 2020- Co-Chair, Law Student Outreach Project (2009-2010) Member, Optimization Committee (2008-2010) Chair, 38th Annual Conference on Environmental Law (2009) Member, Education Service Group (2007-2009) Council Member (term ending 2007) Co-Chair, Strategic Response Committee (2005-2007) Program Vice Chair, Annual Conference on Environmental Law (2004-2007) Chair, Task Force on Constitutional Law (2004-2006) Planning Co-Chair, Eastern Water Law Conference (2004-2006) Co-Chair, Water Quality and Wetlands (2003-2005) Other professional service Member, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Academy of Environmental Law Member, Common Cause Delaware American Association of Law Schools, Representative, Widener University (2003, 2018), Alternate (2004). Mid-Atlantic Environmental Law Center Board Member, 1999-2008. International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Committee on Environmental Law (2001-2006). Delaware Valley Environmental Inn of Court Barrister, 2002-2005. Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group Steering Committee, 2004 Annual Meeting. Eastern Environmental Law Center Founder, Co-Director, Officer and Board Member, 1997-2003. American Canoe Association Board Member, 1998-2002. United States Environmental Protection Agency Federal Advisory Committee on Effluent Guidelines, 1998-2000. State of Delaware Environmental Indicators Advisory Committee, 1998-2000. Pace University School of Law Environmental Law Clinic, Founder, 1999. Wilmington River City Committee, 1999. San Francisco Baykeeper Legal Advisory Committee, 1994-96.
Other Environmental Career Experience:
Environmental Rights Institute, founder, 2015 Director, 2015-2017 co-Director, 2017- Develop and administer programs, including Joint Degree in Law and Marine Policy Program (founder, 1999 Chair, 1999-2017, with University of Delaware) Organize Distinguished Environmental Law Speaker Series, 2013-2019 Coordinate Scholar-in-Residence in Global Environmental Constitutionalism program, 2014-2019 Chair symposia on Environmental Dignity Rights (2018), Global Environmental Constitutionalism (2014) and Environmental Citizen Suits (2003). Direct Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, 1992-2004. Environmental Law Center, co-founder, 2006, Associate Director 2006-2008 co-Director, 2008-2015 (co-enterprise with Commonwealth Law School) Nairobi International Law Institute, 2006 Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, 1992 2004
Representative Publications:
Books -- Authored and Co-Authored DIGNITY LAW GLOBAL RECOGNITION, CASES AND PERSPECTIVES (W.S. Hein 2020) with Erin Daly. See Table of Contents, Preface, Overview Mapping Dignity Law, Dignity LawTeacher's Manual, or dignity blog. The brochure is here. ADVANCED INTRODUCTION TO HUMAN DIGNITY AND THE LAW, Elgar Advanced Introductions series, (Edward Elgar 2020), with Erin Daly, available here JUDICIAL HANDBOOK ON GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CONSTITUTIONALISM (United Nations Environment 2017 bepress here, available here 3d ed. 2019 available here) with Erin Daly, COMPENDIUM TO JUDICIAL HANDBOOK ON GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CONSTITUTIONALISM (UN Environment 2018, 3d edition 2019), with Erin Daly, available here MODERN ADMINISTRATIVE LAW (ChartaCourse, 2018). Information available here GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CONSTITUTIONALISM (Cambridge University Press 2015), with Erin Daly, bepress here, available here Turkish Trans DUNYADA CEVRESEL ANAYASALCILIK (Ekoloji Press 2018), reviewed here MODERN FIRST AMENDMENT LAW, 2ND ED. (2018) (Delaware Law Press) Books -- Edited and Co-Edited ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS THE DEVELOPMENT OF STANDARDS (Cambridge University Press 2020) with Stephen Turner, Dinah Shelton, Jona Razzaque and Owen McIntyre, available here HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT INDIVISIBILITY, DIGNITY, LEGALITY, GEOGRAPHY, Encyclopedia of Environmental Law (Edward Elgar Press 2019), with Erin Daly, available here, reviewed here, here, and here IMPLEMENTING ENVIRONMENTAL CONSTITUTIONALISM CURRENT GLOBAL CHALLENGES (Cambridge University Press 2018), with Erin Daly and with a Foreword by Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin of Brazil, available here, reviewed here. NEW FRONTIERS IN ENVIRONMENTAL CONSTITUTIONALISM (United Nations Environment 2017) with Erin Daly, Angela Kariuki, Louis Kotz, Arnold Kreilhuber, Lara Ognibene, and Caiphas Soyapi, bepress here, available here SHALE GAS AND THE FUTURE OF ENERGY LAW AND POLICY FOR SUSTAINABILITY (Edward Elgar 2016), with John C. Dernbach, bepress here, available here, reviewed here. THE INTERNATIONAL LIBRARY OF CRITICAL WRITINGS ON LAW AND THE ENVIRONMENT ENVIRONMENTAL CONSTITUTIONALISM (Edward Elgar 2016, 2 vols.), lead editor, with Erin Daly, bepress here, available here PRINCIPLES OF CONSTITUTIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW, ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources (ELI Press 2011), bepress here, available here THROUGH THE AGENCY MAZE A HOW-TO CITIZENS GUIDE FOR OBTAINING INFORMATION ABOUT AGENCY ACTIONS AFFECTING THE DELAWARE WATERSHED (Mid-Atlantic Envtl Law Ctr. 2000), with Wendy Carr, SSRN here  
Illustrative Projects:
Board Member and co-Founder, ABA Center for Human Rights Dignity Rights Initiative, 2020- Member, Ecological Working Group, Scientific Committee, Global Pandemic Network, 2020- Board, Normandy Chair for Peace, 2020- Special Representative on Right of Nature, International Council of Environmental Law, 2020- Dignity Rights International, co-Founder and President, 2019- Manage 501(c)(3) that aims to advance dignity under law across the globe. Work with partners including the Environmental Law Institute and United Nations International Organization for Migration write amicus briefs manage 8-member Board of Directors and Officers and assist with 20-member Advisory Council advise strategic plan and fundraising. Co-Developer, Environmental Rights Map, 2014- Delaware GreenWatch Institute, Board Member, 2011-. Manage $350,000 budget to administer grants throughout Delaware Valley Pennsylvania Environmental Resources Consortium, Council, 2017-2019 American Bar Association Section on Environment, Energy and Resources, Council, 2010-12 Mid-Atlantic Environmental Law Center Founder, President and Executive Director, 19982004, Of counsel, Board Member, 20042012 Eastern Environmental Law Center - co-Founder, co-President and co-Executive Director, 19972000 INVITED CONSULTANCIES United Nations Environment Grantee, Judicial Training Materials, 2016- Partner, with University of Cape Town and North-West University, 2016- Meeting, Strengthening Implementation of International Environmental Law, United Nations, New York, New York, December 10, 2018 Pakistan College of Law, 2018- United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, Expert for Human Rights and the Environment, 2014-2016 Special Rapporteur on a Right to a Clean, Safe, Healthy and Sustainable Environment, 2016-19 Consultation on Human and Environmental Rights, Johannesburg, South Africa, January 23-24, 2014 Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, 2018 Legal Advocates to the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, 2018 United Nations Organizational Session Of The Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group That Was Established By General Assembly Resolution 72277 Of 10 May 2018 Entitled Towards A Global Pact For The Environment, United Nations, New York, 5-7 September, 2018 Sustainability Commission (High Level Political Forum), New York, New York, July 10-12, 2018 Delaware ERA Now, 2016-2017 Islamic Republic of Morocco, National Human Rights Council, 2016 United States Embassy, Philippines (on behalf of the International Senior Lawyers Project), 2015 International Senior Lawyers Project, 2015 Peoples Republic of China, 2015 Republic of Hungary Government, 2013
Citations of Major Published Cases:
Hundreds of claims under most federal, and many state and local, environmental and administrative laws, including CWA, CAA, ESA, NEPA, RCRA, CERCLA, EPCRTKA, APA, and state analogues. Extensive pleadings. Litigated 200 claims on behalf of 50 clients before 10 courts and tribunals from 1992 2009, authoring more than 100 briefs. As lead counsel, performed extensive pleadings, petitions, public comments, and other works on 200 federal, state and administrative cases in my capacity as Director of the Widener Environmental Law Clinic, and Executive Director of the Mid Atlantic Environmental Law Center, and Associate Director of the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center, from 1992-2004. Representative Legal Advocacy New York et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, No. 02-1387 (D.C. Cir. Court of Appeals) (challenging 2002 Rule weakening PSD and NSR program), with EarthJustice, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Clean Air Task Force, available here Florida Public Interest Research Group Citizen Lobby Inc. v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Intervenor-Defendant-Appellee, No. 03-13810 (11th Cir. 2004)(improving water quality standards in Florida), available here United States and State of Delaware et al. v. Motiva, United States Dist. Court for Dist. Of Texas, Civil Action No. H-01-0978, November 3, 2003 (Clean Air Act Enforcement Action, successful consent decree), available here Coralations v. U.S. E.P.A, 477 F. Supp. 2d 413 (D.P.R. 2007) (to improve implementation of Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act in Puerto Rico) Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Protection et al. v. Borough of Kennett Square (Clean Water Act enforcement action resulting in compliance and consent decree), available here Petition and Public comments on EPA Title VI Program Rulemaking (Draft Investigations Guidelines)(August 28, 2000), available here Petition to Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to Object to Issuance of Title V Operating Permit AQM-00300032 to General Chemicals, January 31, 2003 (granted) Pro Bono Co-Counsel (Selected) Funk v. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (2013 Pennsylvania case regarding atmospheric trust doctrine) (co-counsel, with Widener Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic)