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Oliver A. Houck

Professor of Law
BA, 1960, Harvard University; JD, 1967, Georgetown University

E-mail:  ohouck@tulane.edu
Telephone:  504.865.5946
Office:  Weinmann Hall, Room 255-C


Oliver Houck’s specialties involve environmental, natural resources and criminal law. He is active in legal proceedings involving wildlife, wetland, coastal and pollution issues and publishes regularly on these and related topics.

He has published several books, including Taking Back Eden (on environmental lawsuits abroad), Down on the Batture (on the Lower Mississippi River), The Clean Water Act TMDL Program (pollution control), and most recently Downstream Toward Home (on rivers of North America). He also has written extensively for academic journals and general interest publications.

Houck served as a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., and as National Wildlife Federation general counsel and vice president before joining the Tulane law faculty in 1981. He has since served on the boards of Defenders of Wildlife, the Environmental Law Institute and the Environmental Defense Fund, an advisory board of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and two committees of the National Science Foundation. He has also founded several public interest organizations in Louisiana and at Tulane Law School and has consulted on the development of environmental law in Cuba and other Latin American countries.

Houck’s classes emphasize relationships between ecology and law, and he regularly takes students on field trips into coastal ecosystems, the Pearl and Atchafalaya swamps and other natural areas. He has received the law school’s Felix Frankfurter Distinguished Teacher Award was named a recipient of the Sumter Marks Award in 2000 and 2002 for his publications. He also has been honored with the New Orleans Press Club Award, the Tulane University Graduate Teaching Award and the 2005 Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Bar Association’s Environmental Section.

He has been recognized as Louisiana’s Conservationist of the Year, Gambit magazine’s New Orleanian of the Year and the New Orleans Young Leadership Council’s Role Model of the Year.

Fall 2016 - Environmental Law: Natural Resources; Energy & Environment LLM Seminar
Spring 2016 - Comparative Environmental Law; Environmental Law: Coastal & Wetlands Seminar


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The New York Times, "How to Save a Sinking Coast? Katrina Created a Laboratory," 08/07/15
Scientific American, "Can Local Officials Who Ignore Climate Change Risks Be Sued?," 06/08/15
WWL-TV, "Legacy lawsuits: 360 cases, millions paid, little cleaned up," 10/14/14
Houma Today, "Powerful interests collide over legacy lawsuits," 07/21/14
Gulf Restoration Network, "Benefit a Success at Mondo," Wednesday, October 12, 2011
The New York Times, "Pipeline Review Is Faced With Question of Conflict," Saturday, October 8, 2011
The Times-Picayune, "The murky history of the Mississippi River batture; primers on the Gang of Six debt plan -- and other picks," Thursday, July 21, 2011
Tulane University New Wave, "Lesson From the Flood," Tuesday, June 7, 2011
St. Louis Today, "Cajuns with deep roots cede to flood," Sunday, May 15, 2011
Huffington Post, "Morganza Spillway Open, Army Engineers Unleash Mississippi Flood," Friday, May 13, 2011
Fox 8 LIVE, "Morganza Spillway opening to destroy property," Friday, May 13, 2011
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "In Louisiana, floods force a choice," Thursday, May 12, 2011
The Washington Post, "In Louisiana, a choice between two floods," Wednesday, May 11, 2011
The Times-Picayune, "Floodway into the Atchafalaya Basin saves New Orleans," Friday, May 6, 2011
The Seattle Times, "Obama proposes broadening EPA's power over water," Thursday, April 28, 2011
New York Times, "Beyond the Oil Spill, the Tragedy of an Ailing Gulf," Thursday, April 21, 2011
The Times-Picayune, Op-ed, "Congress' denial on carbon emissions is risky: Oliver Houck," Thursday, March 24, 2011
Time, TimeFrames, "Katrina: A Man-Made Disaster," Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Washington Post, "To save Chesapeake, turf may face tough love," Monday, November 8, 2010
Daily Comet, "Legal challenges likely to continue in offshore matters," Saturday, November 6, 2010
AOL News, "Film Shows Dilemma Faced by Gulf Residents," Tuesday, October 26, 2010
The Atlantic Wire, "Is Lifting the Deep Drilling Moratorium Smart Politics?" Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Huffington Post, "Will There Be Crude Justice or True Justice For Oil Spill Victims?" Thursday, October 7, 2010
NPR, "La. Looks To New Plan To Restore Fragile Coast," Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Politico, "Fossil fuel industry faces public relations crunch," Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Los Angeles Times, "Louisiana?s love-hate relationship with the oil industry," Thursday, September 16, 2010
Times-Picayune, "Post-Katrina landscape littered with scars, physical and emotional," Monday, August 30, 2010
Tulane Hullabaloo Online, "Oil Spill Update Four Months Later," Friday, August 20, 2010
Journal Gazette, "Widespread threat in marsh collapse," Friday, August 20, 2010
WVVA TV, "Gulf spill lacks societal punch of Santa Barbara," Monday, August 9, 2010
Advocate, "Our Views: Houck looks at the batture," Monday, August 2, 2010
Mobile Press-Register, "Southern Bound: Louisiana's Batture a different world," Monday, August 2, 2010
New York Times, "Gulf of Mexico Has Long Been Dumping Site," Monday, August 2, 2010
New York Times, "Gulf Spill Lacks Societal Punch of Santa Barbara," Thursday, July 29, 2010
Tulane New Wave, "Rig Blowout, Aftermath Focus of Series," Monday, July 26, 2010
Newsvine, "Oil spills. Poverty. Corruption. Why Louisiana is America?s petro-state." Monday, July 19, 2010
Land Use Prof Blog, "BP Blowout Lecture Series at Tulane Law," Monday, July 12, 2010
Tulane New Wave, "Another World Close to Home," Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Business Week, "BP Spill Cleanup Alone Won't End Gulf's Suffering: Albert Hunt," Monday, June 28, 2010
Times-Picayune, "Professor to head staff for drilling study," Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Seattle Times, "Gulf spill sparks debate over worst U.S. calamities," Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Al.com, "Ban on Gulf drilling has its foes," Monday, June 21, 2010
Politics Daily, "BP Storm: Tulane Prof Oliver Houck Warned for Decades of Peril of Lax Energy Regulation," Monday, June 14, 2010
Louisiana Weekly, "Federal response grows as oil spill spreads," Monday, June 7, 2010
LawFuel, "Justice Department Decision Over BP Oil Spill Complicates Civil Claims," Saturday, June 5, 2010
Times-Picayune, "Louisiana allocates a fifth of its first $25 million from BP to legal apparatus," Wednesday, June 2, 2010
The Republican-American, "Federal laws point to criminal charges in Gulf oil spill," Thursday, May 13, 2010
Business Report (South Africa), "US oil spill to cost BP billions of US dollars," Wednesday, May 5, 2010
The Environment Report, "Challenging The EPA & 'Sound Science,'" Friday, February 19, 2010
The Associated Press, "Land-building project in Lousiana shuts down," Friday, January 22, 2010
Seeking Alpha, "Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: Crashinh Through the Nation's Fincancial 'Levee'," Sunday, January 3, 2010
Times-Picayune, "Rethink coastal financing: A guest column by Oliver Houck," Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Australia.to?World News, "U.S.: Katrina Lawsuit Raises Broader Questions About Levee Safety," Monday, November 30, 2009
WaterWorld, "Costly question in Katrina case," Tuesday, November 24, 2009
ABC News, "Katrina Blame Case Could Bring Billions in Lawsuits: Ruling Corps Was at Fault Could Bring Homeowner Lawsuits or Prompt Other Payouts," Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Los Angeles Times, "Effects of judge's Katrina ruling could be huge: The finding that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is liable for much of the New Orleans flooding could change how levees are designed nationwide," November 20, 2009
The New York Times, "In New Orleans, Elation Over Katrina Liability Ruling," Friday, November 20, 2009
ABC News, "Katrina Blame Case Could Bring Billions in Lawsuits Ruling Corps Was at Fault Could Bring Homeowner Lawsuits or Prompt Other Payouts," Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009
Washington Post, "EPA proposes penalties in Chesapeake cleanup: One option would cut off funding for treating polluted waterways," Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The Times-Picayune, "Global warming suit gets go-ahead: Miss. plaintiffs sue energy, utility firms," Saturday, October 17, 2009
Houma Today, "In search of higher ground," Sunday, September 27, 2009
Bloomberg, "Disappearing Wetlands Taint New Orleans? Rebound From Katrina," Friday, September 18, 2009
Caribbean Net News, "Commentary: The US and Cuba: Destined to be an environmental duo?" Monday, June 15, 2009
The New York Times, "María E. Ibarra Martín, Cuban Biologist, Dies at 76," Friday, May 15, 2009
Homeland Security Daily Wire, "New Orleans channel may have exacerbated post-Katrina floods," Thursday, May 7, 2009
Los Angeles Times, "Katrina negligence case goes to trial: The civil suit against the Army Corps of Engineers will be heard after others have been thrown out. It could result in settlements to tens of thousands of storm victims," Monday, April 20, 2009
The New York Times, "High Stakes in Hurricane Katrina Flooding Trial," Sunday, April 19, 2009
Houma Today, "Supporters protest coastal scientist's firing," Thursday, April 16, 2009
AP, "After Katrina, New Orleans is going green," Tuesday, January 27, 2009
CBS News, "After Katrina, New Orleans Is Going Green: As New Orleans Rebuilds In The Aftermath Of Hurricane Katrina, A Green Movement Takes Root," Tuesday, Janaury 27, 2009
WWL News, "Should the oil industry pay to fix coastal damage?," Wednesday, November 19, 2008
PopMatters, "The Federal Projects Game," Thursday, October 2, 2008
Denver Post, "Lessons learned? From Betsy to Katrina to Gustav, levees still crumble under federal inaction," Monday, September 8, 2008
TIME Magazine, "Gustav's Lessons for New Orleans," Thursday, September 4, 2008
Associated Press, "New Orleans repeating deadly levee mistakes," Monday, August 25, 2008
USA Today, "New Orleans repeating deadly levee mistakes," Sunday, August 24, 2008
MacroWorldInvestor, "New Orleans repeating deadly mistakes as post-Katrina work falls behind,"Friday, August 22, 2008
MacroWorldInvestor, "New Orleans repeating deadly mistakes as post-Katrina work falls behind,"Friday, August 22, 2008
Grist Magazine, "A Widening Gulf?: Army Corps climate efforts in New Orleans may not be enough," March 20, 2008
USA Today, "La. wetlands hero has feet of clay," March 12, 2008
Emagazine, "Pulling Out on Pelicans," February 15, 2008
USA Today, "Louisiana's natural defenses at risk," December 20, 2007
NPR, "Feds Propose Massive Buyout for Mississippi Coast," November 15, 2007
Guardian Unlimited, "US debates evacuation of Gulf coastline," October 11, 2007
The Associated Press, "Gov't May Buy Thousands of Miss. Homes," October 10, 2007
USA Today, "Should tax dollars keep rebuilding risky areas?" September 23, 2007
The Advocate, "Environmental group honors seven at banquet," September 16, 2007
The Times-Picayune, "Yes, we need levees, but where?" September 15, 2007
Citizen-Times, "WCU's coastal management experts should be heeded," August 28, 2007
USA TODAY, "Katrina renews calls for change in rebuilding rules," August 22, 2007
Fortune Magazine, "The next energy crisis: More than a quarter of America's oil flows through southern Louisiana. Too bad the land is slowly sinking into the sea." August 9, 2007
The times Picayune, "Panels blast coastal master plan: Rush to finish hurting quality, critics say," March 19, 2007
The Times Picayune, "Panels blast coastal master plan," March 18, 2007
Washington Post Writers Group, "New Orleans' Throttled Future," April 23, 2006
The Economist, "New Orleans Flooding Back," April 20, 2006
Grist Magazine, "Task Force Takes Aim At NEPA," August 4, 2005
Associated Press, "Louisiana Agonizes Over the Future of Its Majestic Cypress," July 31, 2005
Associated Press, "Oil Versus the Coasts: the State's Silence," July 17, 2005
Times Picayune, "Vitter Backs Off Logging Proposal," May 9, 2005
National Law Journal, "Louisiana Dodges $1.3B Bullet," November 1, 2004
Washington Post, "Coastal Louisiana Drowning in Gulf," July 13, 2003
Journalism Without Walls, Stony Brook University, "Elegy for the Wetlands," January 2011

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