Ann Carlson named head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

September 19, 2022
Ann Carlson
Ann Carlson

UCLA School of Law Professor Ann E. Carlson has been named the acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA is the federal agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation 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 was until recently the faculty co-director of UCLA Law’s Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. She is on a leave of absence from UCLA Law to perform her governmental duties, which began in 2021 when she was named NHTSA’s chief counsel.

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.

“This is so outstanding and well-deserved,” says Sean Hecht, co-executive director of the Emmett Institute. “From her pathbreaking work at UCLA Law and the Emmett Institute, as a scholar and teacher at the forefront of the field, to her more recent leadership as chief counsel of NHTSA in Washington, Ann has distinguished herself as a catalyst who puts words on combatting climate change into action.”

“We could not be more proud of Ann – nobody is better suited for the job,” says Russell Korobkin, interim dean of UCLA Law. “Ann is among the most eminent forces for positive change in the field of environmental law and action, and we know that she will do an outstanding job as the leader of this vital agency. Her placement in this key position also underscores UCLA Law’s unyielding leadership in and emphasis on tackling the scourge of climate change.”

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 2020 Q&A with Ann Carlson on why Biden’s election as president causes optimism on climate policy.

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