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Kenneth Kristl


B.A., University of Notre Dame
J.D., III/Chicago-Kent College of Law


Email: [email protected]

Phone: 302.477.2053


Kenneth T. Kristl is a Professor of Law and Director of the Environmental Rights Institute at Delaware Law. Professor Kristl received his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame in 1981, where he was Phi Beta Kappa, and his J.D. from III/Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1984, where he was class Valedictorian and Editor-in-Chief of the Chicago-Kent Law Review.

After graduation from law school, Professor Kristl clerked for the Honorable William C. Lee in the United States District Court for the Northern District of lndiana. Following his clerkship, Professor Kristl joined the Chicago law firm of Winston & Strawn LLP, where he became a Partner in 1994. His practice focused on complex environmental and commercial litigation. He left Winston & Strawn in May 2004 to join the Widener faculty.

While Director of the Clinic at Delaware Law, Professor Kristl has been involved in numerous proceedings that have set important legal precedents. These include:

  • A first-in-the-nation federal court ruling enjoining The United States Department of the Interior and the US Fish and Wildlife Service from allowing farming in general and with genetically modified crops in particular on the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Sussex County, DE without first complying with the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Administrative Procedures Act.
  • A DE state court ruling under Delaware's Coastal Zone Act overturning a Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board (CZICB) ruling allowing new oil lightering operations in the Delaware Bay.
  • A PA Environmental Hearing Board ruling reversing and remanding an NPDES permit allowing discharge of stormwater into a High Quality, Cold Water Fishery stream because of a failure to comply with PA' s Antidegradation Regulations.
  • A DE Environmental Appeals Board ruling reversing and remanding a permit to dredge the Assawoman Canal under Delaware's Subaqueous Lands Act. 
  • Successful opposition to the Coastal Zone Act permit application for the Crown Landing LNG facility in New Jersey before the CZICB.

In addition to his Clinic work, Professor Kristl teaches Property I and II at the Law School. He is a Master in the Delaware Valley Environmental Inn of Court (the first Inn of Court to focus exclusively on environmental law) a member of the ABA's Section on Environment, Energy and Resources, and a member of the Delaware State Bar Association's Section on Environmental Law. He has also written extensively on environmental law issues, including:

PRINCIPLES OF PROPERTY LAW A Casebook for Property I (2020 Lulu Press) 

PRINCIPLES OF PROPERTY LAW A Casebook for Property II (Revised Edition) (2020 Lulu Press) 

A CITIZEN’S GUIDE TO ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCACY IN DELAWARE (2019) (published in connection with the Inland Bays Foundation) 

“Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:  Recognition of Environmental Rights for Pennsylvania Citizens,” 69 Rutgers L. Rev. 101 (2019) (with John Dernbach and James May) 

“The Devil Is In The Details:  Articulating Practical Principles For Implementing The Duties In Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment,” 28 Geo. Envtl. L. Rev 589 (2016). 

“It Only Hurts When I Use It:  The Payne Test and Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment,” 46 ELR 10594 (July 2016). 

Public Participation And Sustainability:  How Pennsylvania’s Shale Gas Program Thwarts Sustainable Outcomes, chapter in SHALE GAS AND THE FUTURE OF ENERGY:  LAW AND POLICY FOR SUSTAINABILITY (2016). 

ASSESSING THE LEGAL TOOLBOX FOR ADAPTING TO SEA LEVEL RISE IN DELAWARE: Options and Challenges for Regulators, Policy Makers, Property Owners and the Public (Lulu Press 2014)

ENGAGING IN ENVIRONMENTAL AND COMPLEX LITIGATION: A Skills-Based, Practice-Oriented Course Book (Lulu Press 2013)

"Robinson Township v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: Examination and Implications," available on SSRN at: (with John Dembach and James May) (2014)

"Diminishing The Divine: Climate Change and the Act of God Defense," 15 Widener L. Rev. 325 (2010). Reprinted in 60 Defense L.J. 59 (2011)

"Renewable Energy and Preemption: Lessons From Siting LNG Terminals" 23 Natural Resources & Environment 58 (Winter 2009).

"Keeping The Coast Clear: Lessons About Protecting The Natural Environment By Controlling Industrial Development Under Delaware's Coastal Zone Act," 25 Pace Env. L. Rev. 37 (2008).

"Making a Good Idea Even Better: Rethinking the Limits on Supplemental Environmental Projects," 31 Vermont L. Rev. 217 (2007).

What is the most important way that I "give back"?

Each year, via the Environmental Clinic, I provide approximately 500-700 hours of my own and supervise approximately 1000-1500 additional hours of student pro bono representation to individuals and organizations facing complex and serious environmental legal issues who often have nowhere else to turn.

Why do lawyers matter?

The law sets out the rules by which our society and economy operate. Lawyers help people and companies navigate those increasingly complex rules, resolve disputes under those rules, and help to establish and defend the justice and equality for which America strives. Lawyers matter because they make America work at its most fundamental level.