Energy Expert Returns to HLS

Professor Jody Freeman will return to the Law School faculty next month after having served as counsel to the Office of Energy and Climate Change (OECC) in the White House since January 2009.

Freeman will also resume her position as Director of the Environmental Law Program at the Law School, which she founded four years ago.

While working in the White House, Freeman—who had planned to serve roughly a year in President Barack Obama’s administration—spearheaded a proposal to create national fuel efficiency standards and reduce emissions.

Barely a week after Obama’s inauguration, Freeman had already pushed his environmental agenda forward, according to Freeman’s colleague, Georgetown Law School Professor Richard Lazarus. Six days after he was sworn in, the president issued three formal measures on energy and climate change.

“That is classic Jody Freeman,” Lazarus said. “While the economy was cratering, while there’s a war in Iraq and in Afghanistan, Freeman was able to make the biggest push in higher emissions standards this country has ever seen.”


According to Lazarus, Freeman was the architect of the new motor vehicles emissions standards policy, which required her to build a consensus among the auto industry, environmentalists, the Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“The number of pieces that had to be put together [was] mind-boggling,” Lazarus said.

Carol Browner, the director of the OECC, wrote in an e-mailed statement to The Crimson that Freeman will continue to serve as “an important policy expert” on environmental law issues.

“[Freeman] made a significant contribution to the president’s effort to transition our nation to a clean energy economy,” Browner wrote.

When Lazarus heard Freeman would be leaving the White House, he said he immediately phoned her to ask if she would teach at Georgetown.

Lazarus said he believes other law schools made a similar phone call.

“Harvard is very lucky,” Lazarus said. “When she comes back she’ll be even better.”

Lazarus added that he would not be surprised if Freeman was asked to serve in a higher role in the president’s administration—perhaps as Administrator of the EPA or as Chairmen of the Counsel on Environmental Policy if Obama serves a second term.

As an academic, Freeman does not have to worry about past or future conflicts of interest in the private sector, Lazarus said, making her an attractive candidate for future service.

According to a Law School press release, Freeman—who could not be interviewed by The Crimson—has recently been appointed to an endowed chair in public law named after Archibald Cox Jr., the former Solicitor General and Watergate prosecutor.

—Staff writer Zoe A.Y. Weinberg can be reached at


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