Ann E. Carlson

Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law

  • B.A. UC Santa Barbara, 1982
  • J.D. Harvard, 1989
  • UCLA Faculty Since 1994

Ann Carlson is the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and the founding Director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. She is a leading scholar of climate change and air pollution law and policy, the co-author of a top casebook on Environmental Law (with Dan Farber and William Boyd), and the co-editor, with Dallas Burtraw, of Lessons from the Clean Air Act: Building Durability and Flexibility into U.S. Climate and Energy Policy. She has published numerous articles in leading law reviews, including California, Harvard, Michigan, Northwestern, and UCLA. From 2021 to 2024, Carlson served in the Biden-Harris Administration as Chief Counsel and Acting Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration. Under her leadership at NHTSA, the agency issued two sets of stringent fuel economy standards, a rule to require pedestrian automatic emergency braking for all light duty vehicles, and the first ever order requiring immediate reporting of crashes involving automated vehicles.  Carlson is a frequent media commentator and blogs at Legal Planet. She is the recipient of the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award, the Eby Award for the Art of Teaching and the Rutter Award for Excellence in Teaching. Carlson is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the American College of Environmental Lawyers. She is a magna cum laude graduate of both UC Santa Barbara and Harvard Law School.


  • Books
    • Cases and Materials on Environmental Law (with Daniel A. Farber and William Boyd). 10th ed. West Academic (2019).
    • Lessons from the Clean Air Act: Building Durability and Adaptability into US Climate and Energy Policy (edited by Ann Carlson and Dallas Burtraw). Cambridge University Press (2019).
  • Articles And Chapters
    • The Trump Administration's Assault on California's Global Climate Leadership, 112 American Journal of International Law Unbound 269 (2018). Full Text
    • The Clean Air Act’s Blind Spot: Microclimates and Hotspot Pollution, 65 UCLA Law Review 1036 (2018). Full Text
    • Legal Pathways to Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions under Section 115 of the Clean Air Act (with Michael Burger, Michael B. Gerrard, Jayni Foley Hein, Jason A. Schwartz, and Keith Benes), 28 Georgetown Environmental Law Review 359 (2016). Full Text
    • Accidents of Federalism: Ratemaking and Policy Innovation in Public Utility Law (with William Boyd), 63 UCLA Law Review 810 (2016). Full Text
    • Text in Context: The Fate of Emergent Climate Regulation after UARG and EME Homer (with Megan Herzog), 39 Harvard Environmental Law Review 23 (2015). Full Text
    • An Ode to the Clean Air Act, 30 Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law 119 (2014). Environmental Law Distinguished Lecture.
    • Reverse Preemption (with Andrew Mayer), 40 Ecology Law Quarterly 583 (2013).
    • Regulatory Capacity and State Environmental Leadership: California's Climate Policy, 24 Fordham Environmental Law Review 63 (2013). 20th Anniversary Symposium Issue.
    • The President, Climate Change, and California, 126 Harvard Law Review Forum 156 (2013). Full Text
    • Designing a Durable Energy Policy (with Robert W. Fri), 142 (1) Daedalus 119 (2013).
    • Designing Effective Climate Policy: Cap-And-Trade and Complementary Policies, 49 Harvard Journal on Legislation 207 (2012). Full Text
    • California Motor Vehicle Standards and Federalism: Lessons for the European Union, in Transatlantic Regulatory Cooperation: The Shifting Roles of the EU, the US and California, (edited by David Vogel et. al., Edward Elgar Publishing, 2011).
    • Rules of the Game: Examining Market Manipulation, Gaming and Enforcement in California’s Cap and Trade Program (with Bowman Cutter, Rhead Enion and Cara Horowitz), Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment (2011). Full Text
    • Iterative Federalism and Climate Change, 103 Northwestern University Law Review 1097 (2009). Full Text
    • Energy Efficiency and Federalism, 107 Michigan Law Review First Impressions 63 (2008). Full Text
    • Implementing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Caps: A Case Study of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, 55 UCLA Law Review 1479 (2008).
    • Heat Waves, Global Warming & Mitigation, Issues in Legal Scholarship, Catastrophic Risks: Prevention, Compensation and Recovery (2007). Reprinted in 26 UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy 169 (2008). Full Text
    • Social Norms and Individual Environmental Behavior, 35 The Environmental Law Reporter 10763 (2005).
    • Classifying Social Norms, in The Jurisdynamics of Environmental Protection: Change and the Pragmatic Voice in Environmental Law, (edited by James Chen, Environmental Law Institute, 2003). Full Text
    • Federalism, Preemption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, 37 U.C. Davis Law Review 281-319 (2003). Full Text
    • Environmental Justice (with Jonathan Zasloff), Southern California Environmental Report Card 22-31 (2001).
    • Takings on the Ground: How the Supreme Court’s Takings Jurisprudence Affects Local Land Use Decisions, 35 U.C. Davis Law Review 103-69 (2001).
    • Recycling Norms, 89 California Law Review 1231-1300 (2001).
    • Standing for the Environment, 45 UCLA Law Review 931-1004 (1998).
  • Other
    • Only by Requiring Lifestyle Change, Not Suggesting It, 24 The Environmental Forum 48 (2007).