Carlson Joins NHTSA as Chief Counsel

January 22, 2021
UCLA Law Professor Ann Carlson

UCLA School of Law Professor Ann Carlson has been appointed to serve as the chief counsel of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal agency that has joint authority with the Environmental Protection Agency over car and truck greenhouse gas standards.

Carlson is the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and faculty co-director of UCLA Law’s Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. She will take a leave of absence from UCLA Law to perform her governmental duties.

Carlson is a nationally renowned leader in legal scholarship, policy-relevant analysis and teaching on environmental issues, including groundbreaking work in air pollution law and policy. A frequent commentator in the national media, Carlson co-wrote with Dan Farber and William Boyd the top casebook Environmental Law (West, 2019), co-edited with Dallas Burtraw the book Lessons from the Clean Air Act: Building Durability and Flexibility into U.S. Climate and Energy Policy (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and is the author of a forthcoming book on the history of air pollution in Southern California.

“Ann’s appointment is a recognition of her leadership in developing solutions for climate change and her commitment to public service,” says Sean Hecht, co-executive director of the Emmett Institute. “Ann’s vision drove the creation of the Emmett Institute as the first law school center to focus on climate change, and she has helped build one of the country’s leading environmental law programs. In this new position, she will play an important role in crafting automobile-efficiency standards that are central to the country’s efforts to address climate change. She’s the perfect person for the job.”

Carlson holds a B.A., magna cum laude, from UC Santa Barbara and a J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School. In 2017, she was named the University of California’s Sustainability Champion. A beloved leader in the classroom, she has also received UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award and Eby Award for the Art of Teaching and UCLA Law’s Rutter Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Read a Q&A with Ann Carlson on why Biden’s election as president causes optimism on climate policy.

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