Rutgers Law student Kevin Leach, who attends the Newark campus, is the first law student to receive a fellowship from the New Jersey Wind Institute to study issues surrounding offshore wind development.

New Jersey has been attempting to develop offshore wind for decades. Leach’s research project, “Are The Laws Enough? Opposition to Offshore Wind Energy in New Jersey and Solutions Through Comparative Law Analysis,” explores whether public approval and investment is necessary for offshore wind development in the Garden State. Leach, who will start his third year in the fall, was selected as a graduate fellow by the institute.

He plans to conduct surveys and analyses to provide a better understanding of how New Jersey citizens feel about these projects and how other states and countries have been successful in this evolving field.

"I am thrilled to be the first law student chosen for this Fellowship,” Leach said. “This opportunity is the perfect bridge between science and the law, and I can't wait to explore, learn, and hopefully contribute to the building of a greener New Jersey." 

Rutgers Law Professor Steve Gold nominated Leach for the fellowship and will serve as his faculty advisor. "Kevin did a tremendous amount of work putting together his winning proposal,” he said. “It was thoroughly researched and offers great potential to address the legal, social and political obstacles to offshore wind energy development."

He continued, "Harnessing offshore wind energy can be an important part of the battle against global climate change fueled by greenhouse gas emissions. Leach’s work will help make that possible while also helping to ensure that environmental, social and legal concerns implicated by offshore wind are properly addressed."

The year-long program is designed to encourage and support student research in topics that further develop offshore wind initiatives and build student and faculty advisor expertise in offshore wind research and innovation in New Jersey. 

Rutgers is one of eight higher education institutions that work together with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and Opportunity Innovation to offer upper class year students the opportunity to conduct paid, independent research related to offshore wind. Funded by The New Jersey Economic Development Authority, graduate participants receive up to $30,000 for their research. 

Leach says he’s passionate about finding ways to bridge the divide between law and science. His previous research experience focused on spectral line analysis (astrophysics), human rights law, and space law. Through comparative law research, scientific communication, and community engagement, he hopes to educate the public about clean energy while inspiring everyone to fight for environmental justice. 

"With a science background and a legal education, Kevin is well-positioned to take on the legal, political, and social issues surrounding offshore wind energy development and to propose strategies for enhancing communication about these issues among the public, the industry, and scientific researchers," Gold said.