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Jody Freeman

  • 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.

  • E.P.A. Announces Repeal of Major Obama-Era Carbon Emissions Rule

    October 10, 2017

    The Trump administration announced on Monday that it would take formal steps to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, setting up a bitter fight over the future of America’s efforts to tackle global warming...Jody Freeman, director of the environmental law program at Harvard Law School, said the Energy Department proposal combined with the Clean Power Plan repeal signaled that the Trump administration was putting its thumb on the scale in favor of fossil fuels. “You see a pretty powerful message. Disavow any effort to control greenhouse gases in the power sector, and instead, intervene in the market to promote coal. It’s a wow,” she said.

  • Joseph Goffman joins Environmental Law Program as new executive director

    Joseph Goffman joins Environmental Law Program as new executive director

    October 2, 2017

    Joseph Goffman, who, over a 30-year career, has shaped environmental law and policy at the highest levels of the Executive branch and as a senior congressional staffer, will join Harvard Law School's Environmental Law Program in November as Executive Director.

  • Does the Colorado River Have Rights? A Lawsuit Seeks to Declare It a Person

    September 26, 2017

    Does a river — or a plant, or a forest — have rights? This is the essential question in what attorneys are calling a first-of-its-kind federal lawsuit, in which a Denver lawyer and a far-left environmental group are asking a judge to recognize the Colorado River as a person...Jody Freeman, director of Harvard’s environmental law program, said Mr. Flores would face an uphill battle. “Courts have wrestled with the idea of granting animals standing,” she wrote in an email. “It would be an even further stretch to confer standing directly on rivers, mountains and forests.”

  • Trump’s environmental agenda is crashing into the courts

    August 15, 2017

    Donald Trump made clear on the campaign trail that he intends to “get rid of” the Environmental Protection Agency and many of its Obama-era regulations. And in its first six months, his administration has overturned or halted nearly two dozen environmental policies and significantly backed off enforcement of environmental pollution laws. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who sued the EPA 14 times in his previous post as attorney general of Oklahoma, has been leading the charge. But rolling back Obama-era environmental protections is actually not that easy. There are laws that govern how the EPA can change its policies. And the courts are proving to be a considerable obstacle to the Trump agenda...As Harvard law professor Jody Freeman told me by email, “Courts don't tend to believe in ‘alternative facts.’ Even conservative judges stick closely to the record and can be expected to look skeptically at a misrepresentation of the science.”

  • Gov. Brown unveils plan for global climate summit, further undercutting Trump’s agenda

    July 11, 2017

    In a rebuke to President Trump’s disengagement from worldwide climate change efforts, Gov. Jerry Brown told an international audience Thursday the president “doesn’t speak for the rest of us” and unveiled plans for a global environmental summit in San Francisco next year...The federal government is crucial for policy to succeed in the long run, but states can fill a role while Trump is in office, said Jody Freeman, a Harvard law professor who served as White House counselor for energy and climate change in the Obama administration. “This is just is of a piece of that effort to say, ‘Look, the U.S. isn’t stalling even though the Trump administration is committed to these rollbacks of climate and energy policy,’” Freeman said.

  • Kate Konschnik

    Kate Konschnik named executive director of Harvard Environmental Law Program

    July 6, 2017

    Kate Konschnik, a lecturer on law and the founding director of Harvard Law School’s Environmental Policy Initiative (EPI), has been named the executive director of the Environmental Law Program (ELP).

  • The Energy 202: Trump’s Paris speech needs a serious fact check

    June 6, 2017

    Donald Trump spent 131 days contemplating what life would be like if the United States left the Paris climate agreement. Ultimately, he seemed to like what he saw, and followed his gut. On Thursday, the president made official his long-rumored decision to withdraw the United States from the 195-nation accord...The Paris deal "is more fair to the U.S. than previous agreements because it includes all the major economies of the world, not just the rich countries, so both developed countries and developing countries have skin in the game," Jody Freeman, a Harvard Law School professor and director of the school's Environmental Law and Policy Program, said.

  • Five-minute warnings

    April 25, 2017

    ...Thirty-five videos, featuring Harvard experts in science, business, law, health, economics, engineering, public policy, design, and the arts, have been assembled over the last year and a half as a resource for members of the public who want to learn more about climate change.....While every viewer will take home different lessons from the videos, Griswold was struck by the discussion of climate change economics and public policy from Associate Professor of Public Policy Joe Aldy and Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government Robert Stavins. He also pointed to perspectives on law from Archibald Cox Professor of Law Jody Freeman

  • In Dismantling Obama’s Clean Power Plan, Trump Hands Victory to the States Fighting It

    March 28, 2017

    President Donald Trump on Tuesday will order the Environmental Protection Agency to dismantle his predecessor's landmark climate effort, backing away from an aggressive plan to cut emissions at power plants that had been the foundation of America's leadership on confronting global warming..."There is a real question of whether they can legally dismantle the Clean Power Plan and replace it with nothing," said Jody Freeman, who was Obama's adviser on climate change and now directs the environmental law program at Harvard. Before the plan was put in place, she said, utilities found themselves exposed to potentially costly nuisance lawsuits from states demanding they take action to limit exposure to the public health threat of carbon. Those suits could re-emerge, she said, if the revised EPA plan lifts greenhouse gas restrictions on power companies.

  • Don’t Roll Back the Vehicle Fuel Standards

    March 8, 2017

    An op-ed by Jody Freeman. One of the signal achievements of the Obama administration was reaching an agreement with the auto industry to dramatically increase fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, doubling them to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The industry now wants to renege. At its behest, the Trump administration is expected to initiate a rollback. Weakening these standards would be a mistake for consumers, the environment and the auto industry itself. They are the most important action the United States has taken to address climate change and reduce the nation’s dependence on oil.