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Geography Professional Speaker Series | The Clean Water Act: An Overview of One Ambitious Environmental Law’s Attempts to Preserve and Improve Our Nation’s Surface Waters, Sept. 23

The Geography Department Professional Speaker Series kicks off 2022-23 with OHIO alumnus Casey Galligan discussing “The Clean Water Act: An Overview of One Ambitious Environmental Law’s Attempts to Preserve and Improve Our Nation’s Surface Waters” on Friday, Sept. 23, at 3 p.m. at Clippinger Labs 119.


Galligan is a staff attorney at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). His talk is open to the public as well as OHIO students, faculty and staff.


The speaker series, funded by the College of Arts & Sciences Seminar Fund, invites high-achieving geography alumni in practical professional fields to share valuable insights on current topics, including environment, urban planning, and climate change.


Galligan is a member of the Ohio Bar and an environmental lawyer. He earned a B.S. in Geography – Environmental Pre-Law from the College of Arts & Sciences in 2010 and an Environmental Studies Certificate from the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service. After Ohio University, Gallian earned a J.D. from Capital University Law School in 2014 with dual concentrations in environmental law and energy law and policy. Galligan joined the Ohio EPA in 2016 and currently works as a staff attorney at its Surface Water Division.


In 1972, Congress made sweeping amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to restore “the Nation’s Waters,” creating what is now the primary policy instrument regulating surface water quality in the United Sates, Galligan said. The Clean Water Act of 1972 set two optimistic goals: zero discharge of pollutants by 1985; and achieving water quality that is both “fishable” and “swimmable” by mid-1983. The act’s cooperative federalism approach allows federal and state governments to work together to achieve the goals of the act, and it contains a broad set of tools to achieve its goals and implement its policies.


While the federal Environmental Protection Agency promulgates national standards and provides oversight, the state environmental agencies provide the day-to-day work of implementing policy and tailoring standards to meet the needs of local watersheds. Galligan will provide an overview of the policies of the Clean Water Act, detail some ways in which Ohio implements the act, discuss current legal issues, and speak about successes and shortcomings.


About the Geography Department’s Professional Speaker Series


The Geography Department’s Professional Speaker Series plans to bring in a series of speakers throughout the academic year so that undergraduate and graduate students can explore career opportunities and options in government offices for environmental law, urban planning, weather forecast, and geography.


The four colloquium talks, held from 3-4 p.m. at 119 Clippinger, are scheduled as follows:

  • Sept. 23: Casey Galligan (B.S. in Geography – Environmental Pre-Law), an environmental lawyer  who serves as a staff attorney with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, will discuss the changes and challenges of the Clean Water Act in Ohio.
  • Oct 14: Justin Goodwin (B.S. in Geography from the Honors Tutorial College in 2002 and M.A. in Geography in 2005 from the College of Arts & Sciences), an urban planner with the Transportation Planning in the Department of Public Service for the city of Columbus, will discuss challenges to urban planning in Columbus.
  • Feb. 3, 2023: Maria Panaccione (M.A. in Geography from the College of Arts & Sciences in 2015), a geographer with the Boundary and Annexation Survey, Geography Program, U.S. Census Bureau, will discuss the preliminary findings of the 2020 census.
  • Feb 17, 2023: James Sullivan (B.S. in Geography - Meteorology and Geographic Information Science Certificate from the College of Arts & Sciences in 2016) is a  meteorologist with the Forecast Office of the National Weather Service Cleveland and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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