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Jody Freeman

  • 5 possible futures for the EPA under Trump

    February 13, 2017

    Donald Trump has long talked about reining in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is in charge of enforcing federal laws on air and water pollution. It’s a top priority for his supporters in the fossil-fuel industry...By the way, it’s unlikely that Pruitt can tear up the EPA’s Endangerment Finding, the 2009 analysis establishing that greenhouse gases were a threat and therefore need to be regulated, without Congress. “That has a voluminous scientific foundation behind it,” said Jody Freeman, a Harvard law professor and former Obama climate advisor. “The Trump administration couldn’t just come in and say nope, no more endangerment! There’s almost no chance that would be upheld [in court].” Plus, in a weird twist, if the EPA’s authority were repealed, that could open the door for common law suits against polluters in the states — a potential nightmare for companies.

  • Trump’s EPA pick poised to survive Senate fight, but his brewing battle with California will be harder to win

    February 3, 2017

    President Trump’s nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency survived a rancorous committee vote Thursday, putting him on the path to full Senate confirmation and a confrontation with California. Scott Pruitt, who oil and gas companies are betting will help them reassert dominance over the energy economy, has cast doubt on California’s power to force automakers to build more efficient, cleaner-burning cars...Many such provocations by past administrations eager to flex their executive muscle have gone sideways. They have bogged previous White Houses down in years-long, politically bruising regulatory and legal disputes, during which the president who set out to teach an early lesson to assertive states ends up getting schooled by them. “Announcing that you are going to give your supporters what they want by picking off a few high-profile policies and rescinding them is really easy,” said Jody Freeman, a professor at Harvard Law who served as White House counselor for energy and climate change under the previous administration. “Doing it is much harder.”

  • Gorsuch Could (But Might Not) Spell Trouble for Environmental Rules

    February 2, 2017

    U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch has opposed giving broad deference to the EPA and other federal agencies during a decade on the federal bench, but his track record also indicates a reluctance to support “heavy-handed rollbacks” of Obama-era environmental rules, legal experts told Bloomberg BNA...And if confirmed, Gorsuch could also—if consistent in his reasonings—upend regulations promulgated by the Trump administration, Harvard Law School professor Richard J. Lazarus told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mail. “The challenge … is to have judges who in fact apply the doctrine in an even-handed way even when it goes against the policies they might personally favor or be favored by those who have nominated them to the Court,” Lazarus said...The cases in which he has made decisions on environmental or public lands issues are really more about his administrative law views, Harvard Law School professor Jody Freeman told Bloomberg BNA. “He seems to come down on both sides depending on the particulars of the case.”

  • Legal world questions Trump’s 2-for-1 approach

    January 31, 2017

    President Trump's executive order to curb regulations may be impossible to implement, according to legal experts. Trump yesterday directed the White House Office of Management and Budget to provide guidance about how agencies could rescind two regulations for every one they publish. He also wants costs from new rules issued in 2017 to be offset with cuts to past regulations. Jody Freeman, director of the environmental law program at Harvard Law School, called the two-for-one regulation strategy "arbitrary, not implementable and a terrible idea." Freeman said the order notes agencies should follow through "to the extent permitted by law" and noted a president cannot order agencies to disobey the law. If they do, they will face lawsuits.

  • Donald Trump is getting ready to hammer the EPA

    January 24, 2017

    Now that he’s president, Donald Trump is laying the groundwork to drastically reshape the Environmental Protection Agency in the weeks and months ahead. All signs indicate that Trump will soon issue a flurry of executive orders as part of the process of weakening various air and water pollution rules and cutting agency budgets...The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to regulate many different pollutants, including greenhouse gases. So Trump’s team can’t just say, “We don’t like this regulation; it’s too expensive.” They’d have to come up with a legally sound argument for why, say, the Clean Power Plan is an inappropriate way to regulate CO2 from power plants and what they’d do differently. “If they try to shortchange this process and rush out a brand new rule, it really will not go well for them when they get into court,” says Jody Freeman, a Harvard law school professor and former climate adviser to Obama.

  • Trump’s First 100 Day Promise On Climate Change Will Take Longer Than He Wants

    January 23, 2017

    One of Donald Trump’s first acts as president was to announce a rollback of two Obama administration environmental efforts, one to protect waterways from pollution and the other to curb heat-trapping gases in the planet’s atmosphere. But while the Trump administration made the announcement on day one of his presidency, it may be years before his wishes can come to fruition, legal experts say. “He cannot roll all this back with the stroke of a pen,” Jody Freeman, professor and founding director of the Environmental Law and Policy Program at Harvard Law School, told BuzzFeed News.

  • Top view of a student walking across a snowy campus filled with footprints in the snow

    Harvard Law School: 2016 in review

    December 22, 2016

    A look back at 2016, highlights of the people who visited, events that took place and everyday life at Harvard Law School.

  • What Could a Trump Administration Mean for the Environment?

    December 19, 2016

    As Donald Trump continues to announce administration roles, environmental experts and advocates are sounding the alarm over what they say are "extreme" selections that will put the government at odds with science and the health of the Earth..."You look at that set up and it's not a recipe for optimism," said Jody Freeman, a former counselor for energy and climate change in the Obama White House and director of Harvard's Environmental Law Program. "I think there's this undercurrent of threatening the legitimacy of climate science and I think that's very dangerous."

  • Environmentalists Brace For Scott Pruitt To Take Over EPA

    December 15, 2016

    What will an anti-regulation, climate skeptic do as head of the Environmental Protection Agency? Environmentalists are bracing. But Scott Pruitt will also face limits if he tries to strip the agency of its power...Jody Freeman is the director of the environmental law program at Harvard Law. She also advised the Obama White House and is on the board at ConocoPhillips. She says EPA administrators get most of their power through setting program budgets and deciding which new programs to pursue or not pursue, and Pruitt would have wide discretion on enforcing environmental rules. JODY FREEMAN: And if he wants to slow down enforcement or treat the states more gently, be a little more lax, he can certainly try to do that.

  • Trump’s EPA Pick May Struggle to Dismantle Obama’s Environmental Legacy

    December 9, 2016

    Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump's pick to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has fought President Barack Obama’s measures to curb climate change at every turn as attorney general of Oklahoma. Now he is hoping to take apart Obama's environmental legacy from the inside out, a task that could prove tougher than it sounds...Jody Freeman, a law professor at Harvard University, said such a move could create complications for the EPA, however, as it may be required legally to explain and support the change in direction.

  • If Trump wants to dismantle Obama’s EPA rules, here are all the obstacles he’ll face

    December 7, 2016

    Donald Trump has given every indication that he wants to dismantle the multitude of environmental rules that President Obama has put in place in the last eight years...Jody Freeman, a Harvard law school professor and former climate adviser to Obama, has been looking at this question extensively. Her view is that this won’t actually be easy for Trump — at least not without substantial help from Congress...I talked with Freeman about the mechanics of a potential Trump administration: how agency rulemaking works, what it would take to revamp Obama’s EPA regulations, why some environmental rules are much more vulnerable than others, and why Trump may not be able to undo everything Obama has done on climate.

  • Trump rollback of Obama climate agenda may prove challenging

    November 29, 2016

    Once sworn into office, Donald Trump will be in a strong position to dismantle some of President Barack Obama's efforts to reduce planet-warming carbon emissions. But experts say delivering on campaign pledges to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency and bring back tens of thousands of long-gone coal mining jobs will likely prove far more difficult for the new president...Dismantling EPA regulations is difficult, especially if the rules have already been finalized and implemented. "The agency has already built up a very strong record to support those rules," said Jody Freeman, director of the environmental law program at Harvard Law School. "It can be very hard to do an about-face."

  • Trump Has Options for Undoing Obama’s Climate Legacy

    November 27, 2016

    President-elect Donald J. Trump has vowed to dismantle many of the signature policies put in place by the Obama administration to fight the effects of climate change...Under the control of the new administration, the office could slow President Obama’s latest regulatory initiatives by repeatedly sending them back for additional work. “It has been a brake on agency regulation throughout its lifetime,” said Jody Freeman, a professor at Harvard Law School and an expert on environmental regulation. “Some presidents have used it as more of a brake than others.”

  • How Trump Can Reverse Obama Climate Change Regulations

    November 22, 2016

    President-elect Donald Trump will come into power next year with the authority to redefine his predecessor’s ambitious and divisive legacy on climate and energy policy. Just as President Barack Obama has used regulations and executive actions to try and make the U.S. a world leader in cutting planet-warming emissions across much of the nation’s economy—especially targeting the coal industry—Trump can largely act alone to define his own agenda. “I really do think there will be some kind of reversal of Obama-era policies, but there are legal, political, and practical constraints on how far the Trump administration can go,” said Jody Freeman, the director of Harvard University’s environmental law and policy program, in an interview with The Daily Signal.

  • Climate policy to be set by Trump, but not by him alone

    November 18, 2016

    For environmentalists and climate activists, the dangers of a Donald Trump presidency are myriad, particularly when his recent victory is combined with Republican Congress....“There’s no question there will be a regulatory rollback, the rhetoric will change dramatically, and climate change as an issue will not be as high on the agenda,” says Jody Freeman, director of the Environmental Law Program at Harvard University. “But we should be cautious and wait and see how dramatic the rollback will be… No administration can do everything at once. They’ll have to prioritize.”

  • Jody Freeman

    Freeman on what’s next for climate change policy

    November 17, 2016

    Regulations to fight climate change likely will be casualties of the incoming Trump administration, but environmental experts taking stock of the changing American political landscape said that work in the field will continue elsewhere and that a broad-based rollback of U.S. environmental protection will prove easier said than done.

  • What’s next for climate change policy

    November 16, 2016

    Regulations to fight climate change likely will be casualties of the incoming Trump administration, but environmental experts taking stock of the changing American political landscape said that work in the field will continue elsewhere and that a broad-based rollback of U.S. environmental protection will prove easier said than done...“Trump could unilaterally withdraw from the Paris Agreement, renouncing U.S. leadership on international climate negotiations. And he could try to rescind or weaken some important regulations, like the Clean Power Plan,” said Jody Freeman, the Archibald Cox Professor of Law and director of Harvard Law School’s Environmental Law Program. “But any effort to fully unravel the substantial and meaningful regulatory initiatives of the last eight years will be long, complicated, and difficult, and in the end likely only partial because of the significant legal, political, and practical barriers to doing so.”

  • Trump Wants to ‘Drain the Swamp,’ but Change Will Be Complex and Costly

    November 14, 2016

    After President-elect Donald J. Trump promised to “drain the swamp” that he sees in the nation’s capital, his millions of supporters are expecting vast changes in the sprawling federal bureaucracy, and conservative activists are drooling at the chance to remake, resize or reduce the reach of government...“He doesn’t possess the executive power to reorganize the government at whim,” said Jody Freeman, a law professor at Harvard University who served in the first Obama administration. “There are some minor things presidents can do, in terms of creating new offices in cabinet agencies. But the notion that he can single-handedly abolish agencies is fanciful.”

  • Rescinding Obama regs? Not so fast, legal scholars say

    November 13, 2016

    President-elect Donald Trump's vows to single-handedly gut Obama administration environmental regulations will be more difficult than he has portrayed, legal experts say. And any effort by Trump's U.S. EPA to rescind or revoke major scientifically based rules — like the air standard for ozone pollution — would be met with a barrage of lawsuits. "Lots of threats of this kind have come in the past," said Jody Freeman, a Harvard Law School professor and former climate adviser to President Obama. "Virtually every Republican administration comes in and says they want to deregulate. But when the rubber hits the road, there is little of it."

  • Jody Freeman

    2016 Election implications for climate change regulation: Not as bad as it seems?

    November 10, 2016

    An op-ed by Jody Freeman: The stunning results of the 2016 election have prompted headlines suggesting that Trump will, with the help of the Republican Congress, dramatically reverse the Obama legacy on climate, energy and the environment. But how realistic is this threat? The short answer is: the picture is significantly more complicated, and markedly less bleak, than the headlines suggest.

  • The fight for clean power (audio)

    October 7, 2016

    A hearing was held on the EPA's Clean Power Plan last month at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Mike Edgerly spoke with the director of Harvard Law School's Environmental Law Program, Jody Freeman, about what happened at the hearing, and what that means for the plan and future climate regulation.