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Jody Freeman

  • What Biden can do if Congress balks at his green agenda

    May 29, 2020

    Joe Biden has been wooing progressives with a list of green initiatives. But even if Democrats take control of Congress, he might have to rely on executive actions to accomplish some of his goals. The presumptive Democratic nominee for president has a $1.7 trillion climate plan that includes myriad proposals — including new regulations on car fuel efficiency, massive increases in government spending, additional taxes on greenhouse gas emissions and rejoining the Paris Agreement. But experts and advocates say Biden would likely have to adjust some of his expectations if Congress can't help, and he may not be able to achieve, for example, net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Still, should he win in November, the former vice president would have a wide range of tools at his disposal to make big changes to climate and environmental policy. "When you've got the agencies of the federal government, and you've got the power to steer and direct and appoint, that's a huge power," said Jody Freeman, who leads the Environmental and Energy Law Program at Harvard Law School and was an environmental policy adviser in the Obama administration. "So I see what Biden could do as quite significant, even though we all think it would be pretty fabulous if Congress could do something," she said...And if Biden doesn't get any help from Congress, he might want to double down on regulations and go even further. "It's not that you have to go find other tools in the executive branch. You have to use the regulatory tools you've got to do more," said Freeman. She argued specifically that Biden could write a new version of the Clean Power Plan far more ambitious than the one the Obama administration put forward in 2015, which would have cut emissions 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. Since then, many coal-fired power plants have been shut down, renewable power has become much cheaper, and the sector's emissions have dropped, showing it's possible to do much more, she said. "You can be ambitious with a new version of the Clean Power Plan because the sector itself has made progress, and the market forces are already driving us in that direction, with the cheap cost of natural gas, the penetration of renewables and the rest," she said.

  • Sign that points to the climate and USA in opposite directions

    No ‘silver lining’ for the climate

    April 21, 2020

    Jody Freeman discusses the progress the nation has made in protecting the environment since Earth Day was founded in 1970, the Trump administration’s efforts to undo Obama-era federal climate regulations, and COVID-19’s urgent lessons for the planet’s health.

  • This year’s US elections could be a climate-policy showdown

    March 13, 2020

    A key debate on climate change is coming into focus for November's US presidential election. Voting this week in Michigan and several other states has cemented former vice-president Joe Biden’s lead over Bernie Sanders as the person to take on president Donald Trump in November. ... A first step for any future Democratic president would be to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord and restore climate rules and regulations that Trump has been busy repealing, says Jody Freeman, an environmental-law specialist at the Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a former White House adviser under Obama.

  • Trump moves to roll back landmark environmental law

    January 13, 2020

    President Trump sees federal environmental regulation as “big government at its absolute worst.” Jody Freeman, Director of the Harvard Law School Environmental and Energy Law Program, joins Ali Velshi to discuss what’s at stake now that President Trump has proposed a complete overhaul of the National Environmental Policy Act.

  • Power Up: California vs. Trump: Raging wildfires show the risks of Trump’s climate approach

    October 30, 2019

    In case you haven't noticed, California's on fire. And according to scientists and environmentalists, wildfires will only increase in frequency and severity — and not just there. Scenes of elite enclaves aflame in Los Angeles and Sonoma could be a window into what the rest of the country will face in the very near future due to climate change. Yet as California burns, the Trump administration continues to target the state that has served as the nation's leader in implementing ambitious climate change policy...“I think the entire agenda of the Trump administration on climate change is at odds with the reality in California,” said Jody Freeman, the founding director of the Harvard Law School Environmental and Energy Law Program who served as an energy and climate change counselor in the Obama White House. “The federal government is behaving like it’s in a different world than what the state of California is dealing with...Wildfires are raging out of control and California is keenly aware of what they need to do to solve this problem,” Freeman told Power Up, “and then you see the systematic attempt by Trump to dismantle every tool to deal with climate change…There is an element of this that almost seems mean-spirited and intentionally punitive.”

  • Professors Jody Freeman LL.M. ’91 S.J.D. ’95 and Richard Lazarus ’79.

    Potentially troubling times for environmental law in the Supreme Court, say HLS professors

    October 1, 2019

    Though the news isn’t all bad, Harvard Law Professors Jody Freeman and Richard Lazarus warned of brewing issues ahead at the annual Supreme Court Environmental Law Review and Preview.

  • Inside the Sunrise Movement: Six Weeks With the Young Activists Defining the Climate Debate

    September 23, 2019

    Ariana Grande's voice fills the rented Chrysler Pacifica minivan: “The light is coming to give back everything the darkness stole.” Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, bops her head, keeping her hands at ten and two on the wheel. “When did this come out?” she asks Jesse Meisenhelter, fellow Sunriser and her copilot on our 10-hour drive between Louisville and Washington, D.C. “It’s so relevant!” Humming along, Meisenhelter, 25, and Prakash, 26 (the same age as Grande), seem more like carefree coeds than leaders of a self-described “army of young people” touring the country to rally support for the Green New Deal—the polarizing climate resolution presented in February to Congress by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey. ... In July, centrist Democrats in the House presented a more moderate plan to curb carbon emissions by 2050 rather than the Green New Deal’s eyebrow-raisingly ambitious goal of 2030. “We are inspired by the energy, activism, and outside mobilizing of the Sunrise Movement and the millions of young people across the country who are using their power to bring about transformational change,” Speaker Pelosi wrote me in an email. “Guided by their voices and the vision and values of our caucus, House Democrats are taking decisive action to defend the people and places we love.” When I speak to Jody Freeman, a professor of environmental law at Harvard University and a former legal counsel in the Obama administration, she tells me that while she admires the ambitiousness of the plan, “I’m not sure that the folks pushing these policies have a pragmatic view of what is possible, given how hard this is politically.”

  • Trump Administration To Revoke California’s Power Over Car Emissions

    September 18, 2019

    NPR's David Green talks to law professor Jody Freeman, who is an ex-Obama staffer, about the expectation that the administration will revoke California's ability to set tighter environmental rules.

  • The Auto Rule Rollback That Nobody Wants, Except Trump

    September 9, 2019

    An op-ed by Jodi FreemanAuto companies prize certainty in how the government regulates them because of the long timelines involved in designing and manufacturing cars and trucks. Now the Trump administration has upended that certainty by going to extraordinary lengths to roll back Obama-era greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards that even much of the industry supports. It’s a senseless exercise of apparent presidential pique. Worse, it threatens to undo what would be the country’s most important climate achievement, the doubling of vehicle fuel efficiency to about 55 miles per gallon by 2025. Those standards all told would have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by six billion metric tons, cutting auto sector emissions in half by 2025, and saved American families more than $1.7 trillion in gas, with an average fuel savings, for instance, of more than $8,000 for a 2025 model vehicle over its average lifetime.

  • Trump Administration Challenges California And Automakers On Fuel Economy

    September 8, 2019

    The Trump administration says a deal between California and four carmakers to improve fuel efficiency may be illegal. The Justice Department has also launched a probe to see whether it violates antitrust laws. Together, the moves raise the stakes in a months-long standoff over efforts to weaken a key Obama-era climate rule. ...  All this could set up an "epic" legal battle, says Jody Freeman, who served under the Obama administration and is now at Harvard Law School. She says the EPA under President George W. Bush also rejected California's emissions waiver, but "that hasn't been tested in the courts, so we don't know how it would come out." Freeman also says it is "astonishing" that President Trump is pushing so hard for an aggressive rollback that automakers don't want, when they've made clear they would accept a more moderate compromise.

  • New Dorian Forecast: Storm Could Make Landfall in the Carolinas

    September 5, 2019

    Jody Freeman comments on hurricanes and climate change policy.

  • Bernie Sanders offers a massive climate plan. Environmentalists cheer, but will it be too much for voters?

    August 27, 2019

    Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed a $16.3 trillion climate plan Thursday, an expansive blueprint meant to enlarge American ambitions on combating planetary warming in a presidential campaign already marked by aggressive Democratic approaches...“I see these proposals as both markers and mobilizing tools,” said Jody Freeman, who was a climate adviser to Obama and now teaches at Harvard Law School. “They are a marker that says, ‘We care about climate change. We really, really do.’ And they are a mobilizing tool because we are in a primary and the idea is to try to attract the left side of the spectrum.”

  • Bernie Sanders offers a massive climate plan. Environmentalists cheer, but will it be too much for voters?

    August 26, 2019

    Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed a $16.3 trillion climate plan Thursday, an expansive blueprint meant to enlarge American ambitions on combating planetary warming in a presidential campaign already marked by aggressive Democratic approaches...“I see these proposals as both markers and mobilizing tools,” said Jody Freeman, who was a climate adviser to Obama and now teaches at Harvard Law School. “They are a marker that says, ‘We care about climate change. We really, really do.’ And they are a mobilizing tool because we are in a primary and the idea is to try to attract the left side of the spectrum.”

  • Here’s what environmentalists are really worried about with Trump’s new power plant rule

    August 20, 2019

    Attorneys general from about two dozen Democratic states are challenging the Trump administration’s rollback of one of President Obama’s signature climate regulations. But what the blue state lawyers are really worried about is how the rule may limit future administrations from tackling heat-trapping pollution. ... The case, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, could wind its way to the Supreme Court should Trump win a second term and stop a Democratic rival from repealing his rule before it reaches the high court. "No doubt, it’s going to be a grinding legal battle," said Jody Freeman, founding director of Harvard Law School's the environmental law program.

  • Why environmentalists are worried about Trump’s new power plant rule

    August 14, 2019

    Attorneys general from about two dozen Democratic states are challenging the Trump administration's rollback of one of President Barack Obama's signature climate regulations. But what the blue state lawyers are really worried about is how the rule may limit future administrations from tackling heat-trapping pollution. ... The case, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, could wind its way to the Supreme Court should Trump win a second term and stop a Democratic rival from repealing his rule before it reaches the high court. "No doubt, it's going to be a grinding legal battle," said Jody Freeman, founding director of Harvard Law School's the environmental law program.

  • Environmental protections on the line

    August 5, 2019

    Despite President Trump’s efforts to roll back Obama-era regulations on fuel efficiency standards, California just made a deal with four automakers to continue reducing emissions. The Trump administration has targeted 80 plus environmental regulations involving air and water pollution, drilling, toxic chemicals, and protecting land and wildlife.  We start this hour with a look at the White House attempt to weaken environmental rules, how far they’ve gotten, and the legal challenges they’re facing with JODY FREEMAN, professor of environmental law at Harvard Law School. Then, can you imagine living without any plastic? No plastic bags, plastic containers, plastic toothbrushes or shampoo bottles? Some people are trying to go plastic-free but with varying success. Plastic is everywhere. We’ll talk about the challenges of trying not to use plastic, if it’s worth the effort, and get tips for your next trip to the supermarket. Our guest is DIANNA COHEN, co-founder and CEO of the Plastic Pollution Coalition.

  • Justice Stevens Ruling Set Groundwork For US Climate Policy

    July 23, 2019

    Justice John Paul Stevens' landmark decision in Massachusetts v. EPA forced the federal government to address the problem of climate change and unleashed a flood of decarbonization policies, a deluge that the Trump administration is trying to reverse. Justice Stevens, who died Tuesday, penned the 5-4 majority opinion in 2007 that greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act and subject to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation. Twelve states, led by Massachusetts, along with several cities and environmental groups had sued the EPA seeking to force it to regulate GHGs. The decision is considered one of the most important U.S. environmental law rulings ever made. ... “It showed that Justice Stevens was a consensus builder, somebody who could write an opinion in a way that would attract, not repel, votes,” said Jody Freeman, the founding director of Harvard Law School's Environmental and Energy Law Program and a former Obama energy and climate change counselor. “That's a very important skill for a Supreme Court justice.”

  • E.P.A. Finalizes Its Plan to Replace Obama-Era Climate Rules

    June 25, 2019

    The Trump administration on Wednesday replaced former President Barack Obama’s effort to reduce planet-warming pollution from coal plants with a new rule that would keep plants open longer and undercut progress on reducing carbon emissions. The rule represents the Trump administration’s most direct effort to protect the coal industry. It is also another significant step in dismantling measures aimed at combating global warming, including the rollback of tailpipe emissions standards and the planned withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement...Jody Freeman, a professor of environmental law at Harvard University and a former legal counsel in the Obama administration, said it would be “a blockbuster” if the Trump rule reached the Supreme Court and justices endorsed the administration approach. “It could foreclose a new administration from doing something more ambitious,” she said. “No matter how you slice it, this is a dramatic retrenchment” Ms. Freeman said. “It’s not just that they’re doing very small, modest steps to reduce emissions. It’s that they’re not creating momentum to substitute renewables and substitute natural gas for coal. That’s what the Obama rule was doing, and it had a long-term view to bigger emission cuts over time.”

  • The Energy 202: Ex-EPA engineer says Wheeler is misleading Congress about car rule

    June 25, 2019

    Jeff Alson was sitting in his apartment in Ann Arbor, Mich., when he felt like he was going to explode. The retired environmental engineer, who worked at the Environmental Protection Agency for 40 years, had just read a letter written by one of his old bosses, agency chief Andrew Wheeler. In it, Wheeler told Congress that EPA career experts had not been cut out of the process of crafting one of the Trump administration's most controversial environmental proposals to date — one that would abandon one of President Barack Obama's signature climate policies. Alson was one of those EPA experts before retiring in April 2018. He was fuming, he later said, because he believed what Wheeler was saying was wrong...California and other states have vowed to challenge the freezing of the fuel-efficiency standards in court once they are finalized. If the EPA's technical staff were cut out of the process, as Alson contends, that may provide fodder for a lawsuit. “The Clean Air Act requires EPA to be 'the decider' for its own rules, so IF it could be clearly shown in the record that EPA relinquished decision-making authority to NHTSA, that could be a problem for EPA in the courts,” Jody Freeman, director of Harvard Law School's Environmental and Energy Law Program, wrote by email.

  • Climate rule gets muted response on the trail

    June 25, 2019

    President Trump's new industry-friendly carbon rule for power plants was greeted with little fanfare among the field of Democrats hoping to run against him. While eight of the two dozen 2020 hopefuls responded negatively to EPA's Affordable Clean Energy rule, most reactions were published by candidates' government offices, and very few explicitly promised to take action against the regulation if they are elected...Jody Freeman, a Harvard Law School environmental law professor who served in the Obama White House, said the subdued responses show how far climate policy has come. "The thinking has moved beyond just reinstating CPP," Freeman said. "Candidates are coming out with bold and ambitious, economywide plans, and they don't feel tethered to the CPP." Freeman argued it would nonetheless behoove candidates to think about what emissions reductions they could accomplish using solely the executive branch's authority, as both the Clean Power Plan and ACE do. "They always do this, they campaign on big, bold plans that require Congress to act," Freeman said of presidential candidates. "Then at some point, they realize that they need to examine their existing authorities like the Clean Air Act to see what can be accomplished there."

  • Jody Freeman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

    Jody Freeman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

    April 17, 2019

    The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has announced that Jody Freeman LL.M. '91 S.J.D. '95, Archibald Cox Professor of Law, has been elected a member of the honorary society, one of twelve members of the Harvard faculty to receive the honor this year.

  • Trump escalates war on states’ environmental powers with order to spur pipelines

    April 11, 2019

    President Trump’s move Wednesday to limit the power of states to block oil and gas pipelines is representative of what critics say is his administration’s hypocritical approach to “cooperative federalism.” The Trump administration has rejected former President Barack Obama’s muscular approach of using federal government power to combat climate change — deferring action to states to plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector. ... “Instead of pulling up the laggards and unleashing the leader states to do more, Trump is empowering the laggard states while blocking the leaders [like California],” said Jody Freeman, a Harvard Law School professor who served as counselor for energy and climate change in the Obama White House. “It’s a remarkable turnaround.”

  • Talks to avoid a messy legal fight over California’s emissions rules appear stalled

    January 31, 2019

    Talks between the Trump administration and California over rules requiring automakers to steadily decrease car emissions are no closer to reaching a deal than when they began months ago, setting the stage for a protracted legal battle. ... “I’ve seen a lot of going through the motions,” said Jody Freeman, a Harvard environmental law professor who is not involved in the current talks but worked on the first set of national vehicle emissions standards under President Obama. During those negotiations, Freeman said she required agency staff with technical expertise to be deeply involved.

  • How Trump Is Ensuring That Greenhouse Gas Emissions Will Rise

    November 27, 2018

    ...In almost two years since taking office, Mr. Trump has denied the scientific reality of climate change and taken aggressive steps that will increase emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases — despite unequivocal scientific evidence that those pollutants are warming the planet to dangerous levels...“These are life-extension projects for coal plants,” said Jody Freeman, a Harvard law professor and former counsel to the Obama administration. “It’s a very calculated effort to go in the opposite direction from what’s needed.”

  • Trump Put a Low Cost on Carbon Emissions. Here’s Why It Matters.

    August 28, 2018

    How much economic damage will global warming cause? That’s one of the key questions embedded in the Trump administration’s recent proposals to weaken Obama-era regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from both vehicles and power plants...“Typically, an agency gets some latitude to set standards a bit more or less stringently,” said Jody Freeman, director of the environmental law program at Harvard Law School. “But if you can show the agency to be glaringly wrong in its analysis — they ignore obvious counterarguments, they cherry-pick the data to support their outcome, they make numbers up — you can get a court to strike the standards down.”

  • What the case of a killer whale tells us about Brett Kavanaugh

    August 27, 2018

    Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has demonstrated a deep suspicion of government regulation, a pattern aligned with the Trump administration and perhaps best exemplified by his dissent in the case of a killer whale that attacked a SeaWorld trainer...Kavanaugh, as well as some of the Supreme Court's more conservative justices, question a longstanding legal principle dictating that judges defer to agencies' interpretations of vague and open-ended statutes, as long as the interpretations are reasonable. They counter that if there's new problem to solve, Congress should address it with a new law. That would inevitably lead to less regulation, observes Harvard law professor Jody Freeman, who specializes in administrative law and environmental issues. "If you hamstring the agencies and say every time there's a new issue, every time there's a new problem ... you have to go back and get express permission from Congress, that's a way of saying, you don't want the agencies to do very much. Congress doesn't produce much new law now."

  • Trump issues rollback of Obama’s biggest climate rule

    August 21, 2018

    The Trump administration rolled out its proposal for gutting former President Barack Obama’s most sweeping climate change regulation Tuesday — a move that could also block any future Democratic president from trying to put it back together....Former Obama White House climate aide Jody Freeman expressed some concern that the court battle to follow could leave EPA with diminished authority to regulate greenhouse gases at all, unless Congress steps in with a new law. “There’s certainly a legal pathway in which a court could lock in such a narrow reading that it would be very problematic for a future administration,” said Freeman, who is now director of Harvard Law School’s environment and energy program. “There’s also a pathway in which a court could uphold what one administration does and leave room for another to change its mind.”

  • 2018 last lecturers

    Faculty have the ‘last’ word

    August 7, 2018

    This spring, Professors Jody Freeman, Alex Whiting, Carol Steiker and Paul Butler each shared personal stories and experiences with a group of soon-to-be graduates poised to enter the new phase of Life After HLS as part of the Last Lecture Series, an event sponsored annually by the 3L and LL.M. Class Marshals.

  • Trump’s Biggest Climate Move Yet is Bad for Everyone

    August 2, 2018

    An op-ed by Jody Freeman. The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation moved Thursday to fulfill President Trump’s promise to undo landmark Obama-era rules requiring automakers to steadily reduce greenhouse gas pollution from cars and trucks and improve fuel efficiency through 2025. Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, with the biggest share coming from cars and trucks. Yet the government now plans to freeze fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards indefinitely at levels set for 2020, thwarting progress on addressing climate change. To make sure it accomplishes that goal, the Trump administration also wants to strip California of its authority to set stricter greenhouse gas standards for vehicles sold within its borders, which the state is authorized to do under a longstanding provision of the Clean Air Act.

  • Reagan fought for California’s right to require tough fuel standards. Trump might try to reverse it.

    July 31, 2018

    The Trump administration has drafted a plan to freeze fuel-efficiency standards for the nation’s cars and light trucks, reversing the Obama-era push for cleaner vehicles and marking one of President Trump’s most significant regulatory rollbacks to date. As part of the far-reaching proposal expected to be released this week, the White House will also attempt to revoke California’s ability to set stricter tailpipe standards than those of the federal government...“It’s had a transformational impact,” said Jody Freeman, an expert in environmental law and a professor at Harvard Law School. “It was directly responsible for many advancements that make cars better, stronger and more efficient.”

  • Top Trump Officials Clash Over Plan to Let Cars Pollute More

    July 31, 2018

    ...With the retirement of the Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who often served as a swing vote on the court, Mr. Trump has nominated a judge to succeed him, Brett Kavanaugh, who is considered more reliably conservative. “They may well feel emboldened by the fact that Kennedy is retired, and they will likely see more conservative justices,” said Jody Freeman, a professor of environmental law at Harvard and a former adviser to President Barack Obama. However, Ms. Freeman noted that previous efforts to pre-empt such state-level authority have failed, a fact that also concerns Mr. Wheeler, according to people familiar with his thinking. “We’ve never seen a state-level waiver being revoked, and it’s not clear how that would work,” Ms. Freeman said.

  • Andrew Wheeler Is Afraid to Revoke California’s Fuel Waiver. He Should Be.

    July 31, 2018

    There’s trouble in Trumpland, and California is caught in the middle..Revoking the waiver “would be unprecedented,” says Jody Freeman, a Harvard law professor. “There have been dozens of waivers that California has gotten over the decades since the 1970s, and [the EPA] has never revoked one.”

  • Trump’s Deregulators Emboldened by Kavanaugh Supreme Court Pick

    July 25, 2018

    Trump administration officials were putting the finishing touches on a strategy to roll back car pollution standards when they received a boost from an unexpected source: the Supreme Court. The announced retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, a swing vote on the court, and the plan to replace him with a reliable conservative in Brett Kavanaugh, energized the regulators. They plan to go with the boldest option, including a challenge to California’s ability to set its own limits...Jody Freeman, a Harvard environmental law professor and an architect of the Obama administration’s fuel efficiency pact with California, said it’s not clear how Kavanaugh would view key legal questions around the fuel economy rollback. “I don’t think we have enough of a record on Kavanaugh’s views of state powers and federalism to be confident about how this particular challenge would come out,” she said.

  • Kavanaugh pick threatens EPA policies, FERC authority, lawyers say

    July 17, 2018

    ..."I think for all of these rulemakings his judicial philosophy and his temperament is to be skeptical of important, big, far-reaching agency rules, especially if they are interpreting or adapting older stuff in novel ways," said Jody Freeman, director of the Environmental and Energy Law Program at Harvard Law School. "It's all approached with this general skepticism toward overreach and ... He has no problem deciding not to defer [to federal agencies]. He has no difficulty."

  • Kavanaugh can ‘sympathize’ on climate but questions action

    July 10, 2018

    ...Of the judges who made Trump's shortlist, Kavanaugh was viewed as the most troublesome for environmentalists, said Jody Freeman, the founding director of Harvard's Environmental and Energy Law Program. That reputation might be overblown, she said. "You can't say that you always know the outcome with Brett Kavanaugh," Freeman said. "He's a very serious and very diligent judge, and he's shown himself to be persuadable."

  • Carol Steiker: 'Choosing wisely is more important -- and less important -- than you might think it is'

    Carol Steiker: ‘Choosing wisely is more important — and less important — than you might think it is’

    May 17, 2018

    Carol Steiker '86 began her Last Lecture to the class of 2018 by sharing the questions she is frequently asked by students--what electives and classes to take, what summer job they should seek--and the advice she gives them: “It doesn’t matter that much.”

  • Jody Freeman

    In Last Lecture, Jody Freeman assures graduating students: ‘You have the tools you need to become successful’

    May 10, 2018

    In her Last Lecture, Professor Jody Freeman LL.M. ’91 S.J.D. ’95 encouraged the class of 2018 to think broadly about what success means, in their future career and also in life.

  • Trump Plans to Fight California Car Rules With Twice-Failed Strategy

    May 8, 2018

    The Trump administration is preparing to battle California’s tough car pollution regulations using an approach that federal courts have already rejected. Twice. Federal regulators are drafting a proposal that takes aim at California’s cherished authority to set its own smog-busting rules. A leaked draft of the plan that is being finalized for submission to the White House shows that it wouldn’t outright revoke the state’s ability to set pollution standards, but it asserts that a 1975 law prohibits states from setting their own limits on greenhouse gas emissions...The so-called preemption argument in the draft EPA-NHTSA proposal “looks like an effort to do an end-run around the waiver,” said Jody Freeman, a Harvard environmental law professor.

  • Trump EPA’s fuel economy plan could have far-reaching consequences for climate and clean air

    May 3, 2018

    The Trump administration's plan to scrap vehicle fuel economy rules would lead to a surge of oil consumption that independent researchers warn threatens to paralyze the ability of the United States to make crucial progress in confronting climate change...The Trump administration plan aims to revoke California's authority to stick to stricter emissions. Legal scholars are dubious that it would succeed. "They are doing a retread of arguments that were made during the Geroge W. Bush administration," said Jody Freeman, who was President Obama's advisor on climate change and now directs the environmental law program at Harvard. Two federal district courts rejected the arguments at that time, she said.

  • California Sues Trump Administration Over Car Emissions Rules

    May 2, 2018

    A coalition led by California sued the Trump administration over car emissions rules on Tuesday, escalating a revolt against a proposed rollback of fuel economy standards that threatens to split the country’s auto market. In a lawsuit filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, California and its coalition — 16 other states and the District of Columbia — called the Environmental Protection Agency’s effort to weaken auto emissions rules unlawful and accused the agency of failing to follow its own regulations, and of violating the Clean Air Act...It is not yet clear if the E.P.A. will take those steps, but Tuesday’s lawsuit could strengthen California’s legal hand if that were to happen. “This is a preliminary challenge. It’s a shot across the bow,” said Jody Freeman, a professor of environmental law at Harvard University who advised the Obama administration. “It sets the table to challenge the agency’s reasons for rolling back the rule, if they go ahead and do it.”

  • California Defends More Than Climate With EPA Lawsuit

    May 2, 2018

    A lawsuit that California filed Tuesday challenging the Trump administration's plan to roll back vehicle emissions standards has more at stake than pollution limits: It might also affect whether the state can retain its unique power to chart its own course in regulating tailpipe emissions. Since 1970, California has enjoyed authority from Congress to implement its own, tighter vehicle emissions standards, which more than a dozen other states also follow. Vehicle emissions last year ranked the greatest source of heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S...The EPA, meanwhile, "could basically ignore [California's] waiver and argue that California is pre-empted from setting standards" under the law that gives federal authorities the power to set fuel efficiency standards," or "EPA could decide to revoke it," says Jody Freeman, who served as the White House's counselor for energy and climate change from 2009-2010, and is a professor and director of the Environmental and Energy Law Program at Harvard Law School.

  • Reducing Car Emissions Standards Doesn’t Make Sense To Harvard Law Prof Who Negotiated Them For Obama

    April 4, 2018

    The news that the Trump administration is expected to roll back Obama-era EPA regulations on car emissions and fuel efficiency standards is tough to swallow for Harvard Law professor Jody Freeman. She negotiated those standards with the auto industry in 2009 and 2010 as a counselor for energy and climate change in the Obama White House. “It was kind of a historic achievement,” she said. “And it’s pretty dramatic to think that they might be rolled back now.” The standards require automakers to achieve an average of 36 miles per gallon across their car models by 2025. That's about 10 mpg over the standards in effect for 2018 models.

  • E.P.A. Prepares to Roll Back Rules Requiring Cars to Be Cleaner and More Efficient

    March 30, 2018

    The Trump administration is expected to launch an effort in coming days to weaken greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards for automobiles, handing a victory to car manufacturers and giving them ammunition to potentially roll back industry standards worldwide...As a result, the automakers’ victory might come with unexpected headaches for them, said Jody Freeman, a Harvard law professor and former counsel to the Obama administration. For instance, if the rest of the world moves toward stricter rules anyway, the American market could find itself an industry laggard, ceding leadership in clean vehicle technology to markets like China or the European Union. “I don’t really know if the auto industry wants what this administration might be doing,” she said. “It might be like the dog that caught the car.”

  • Courts become crucible for Trump’s rule rollbacks

    March 17, 2018

    President Trump has made rolling back regulations a top priority for his administration, and U.S. EPA has been leading that charge. But the agency faces formidable challenges in federal courts. Of 25 deregulatory actions taken by EPA in the Trump era, six have been challenged in court, according to an analysis by E&E News...EPA's deregulatory actions have taken a variety of forms, said Jody Freeman, founding director of Harvard Law School's energy and environmental law program, who served as a climate adviser for President Obama. In some cases, EPA has tried to suspend or delay compliance deadlines. In other cases, the agency has delayed rules themselves or missed deadlines in statutes, she said. "I think there's a concerted effort here to really throw everything possible at the Obama administration's environmental protection agenda," Freeman said. "That means trying every trick in the book."

  • Trump says he’s best at killing rules. Is that true?

    February 1, 2018

    The story of President Trump's energy policy centers on removing regulations. He says he's good at it — even the best. "We have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in history," Trump said in his first State of the Union address. That's not necessarily true. But in some ways, it's not necessarily false...Much of the focus has been on EPA, where Pruitt has proved a deft field general, said Jody Freeman, another Obama climate adviser. After a delayed start, he's now staffed up with political pros and EPA veterans familiar with the rules they're tasked with changing or undoing..."Scott Pruitt has been among the most disciplined, so that's why people are really worried," said Freeman, who is now at Harvard Law School. "There's the contrast — Rick Perry over there shooting from the hip, and here's Scott Pruitt being careful."

  • Trump Moves to Open Nearly All Offshore Waters to Drilling

    January 5, 2018

    The Trump administration said Thursday it would allow new offshore oil and gas drilling in nearly all United States coastal waters, giving energy companies access to leases off California for the first time in decades and opening more than a billion acres in the Arctic and along the Eastern Seaboard...Jody Freeman, director of the environmental law program at Harvard Law School and a former Obama climate adviser, said the latest Trump proposal was more about sending a message. In the Arctic in particular, she said, low oil prices and the decision by Royal Dutch Shell to give up all but one of its federal oil leases indicate drilling is not on the near horizon. “But the decision is a signal, just like the one Congress sent with ANWR, that Republicans want to open the nation’s public lands and waters for business,” she said.

  • 6 takeaways as Trump moves toward replacement

    December 19, 2017

    After spending most of its first year tearing down climate rules, the Trump administration is now taking steps to write its own. U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt yesterday asked for wide-ranging comment about how to replace the Obama administration's signature climate change rule, the Clean Power Plan. In the lengthy document known as an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR), the administration offered important clues about the way forward, claimed that the Obama rule was illegal and gave critics fodder for counterattacks...Changing the program is therefore likely to draw lawsuits, Jody Freeman, a former Obama climate adviser, said in a recent interview. "That's been a moving target, and we always expect a Republican administration to give the old coal plants more room," said Freeman, who is now a professor at Harvard Law School. "Then it becomes a legal battle ... that gets into the trench warfare that's always been true of New Source Review."

  • The evolution of American environmental law from Nixon to Trump

    The evolution of American environmental law from Nixon to Trump

    November 7, 2017

    “The Remarkable Evolution of American Environmental Law from Nixon to Trump and Beyond” panel during Harvard Law School's bicentennial summit focused on the uncertain future of the Environmental Protection Agency in the current administration. Panelists A. James Barnes ’67, Richard J. Lazarus ‘79, William Reilly ’65 and Gina McCarthy looked at the EPA’s distinguished history.

  • Rick Perry’s Anti-Market Plan to Help Coal

    October 25, 2017

    An op-ed by Jody Freeman and Joseph Goffman. Lost in all the attention to the Trump administration’s effort to scuttle President Barack Obama’s clean power plan is its attempt to prop up the struggling coal industry by doing something very un-Republican — subsidizing it. Last month, Rick Perry, the secretary of energy, asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — the independent agency that regulates electricity markets — to adopt a new rule to pay certain coal and nuclear plants more than they would otherwise earn in a competitive market. In essence, consumers would pay these plants a premium for electricity that competitors could produce, and are already producing, more cheaply.

  • Trump Administration Wants to Repeal — Not Replace — Clean Power Plan

    October 10, 2017

    The Trump administration now says that it wants to repeal the Obama administration’s prized environmental policy: the Clean Power Plan, which mandates 32% cuts in CO2 emissions by 2030...“If (critics of the law) were right, government could never regulate newly discovered air or water pollution, or other new harms, from existing industrial facilities, no matter how dangerous to public health and welfare, as long as the impacts are incremental and cumulative,” write Jody Freeman and Richard Lazarus of Harvard Law School.