Environmental Defense Fund: US Climate Legal Innovation Fellow

Apply here. (Applications due Friday, January 12, 2018)

Non-U.S. citizens are eligible to apply for this position.

Website: www.edf.org

Location: Washington, DC

Fellowship Position

Position title: US Climate Legal Innovation Fellow

Department: Climate and Energy; Legal & Regulatory

Reports to:  Economist

Address of fellowship placement: 1875 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 600 Washington, DC 20009

Department Description

The Legal & Regulatory team is part of EDF’s Climate and Energy program, and features a multidisciplinary staff consisting of attorneys, technical experts, and policy analysts. We seek to deploy all available tools under existing law to achieve rapid and significant reductions in a broad range of air pollutants that threaten climate and human health. We integrate legal expertise with rigorous technical and policy analysis to develop effective and legally robust policy solutions to the most important climate and air quality challenges we face, and to effectively advocate for those solutions before federal and state administrative agencies. We also play a major role in litigation efforts to safeguard climate and air quality protections before the U.S. Supreme Court, other federal courts, and state courts. In recent years, the Legal & Regulatory team has played an important role in securing and defending climate and clean air progress in a number of key areas, including carbon pollution standards for power plants; methane standards for oil and gas facilities both nation-wide and on federal and tribal lands; greenhouse gas emission standards for passenger vehicles and heavy-duty trucks; national ambient air quality standards for ground-level ozone; and standards for a wide range of pollutants from power plants, including mercury, other air toxics, and pollutants that contribute to ground-level ozone and harmful particulates.

Position Description

In response to the Trump Administration’s relentless efforts to roll back or rescind vital climate protections under the Clean Air Act, the Legal & Regulatory team is exploring innovative legal tools that are independent of the Clean Air Act and that would ensure a broad range of industries perceive and act upon climate-related risks and liabilities in spite of the current Administration’s deregulatory agenda. The Fellow will help the Legal & Regulatory team undertake a comprehensive initiative directed at ensuring these legal tools are grounded in rigorous technical and policy analysis, and socializing and disseminating these legal tools among relevant communities of experts.

This project is multidisciplinary in nature and will involve research and analysis on the extent to which major emitters of climate pollution and suppliers of fossil fuels currently are exposed to financial or legal risks and liabilities as a result of their contributions to climate change. In addition, the Fellow will work with other members of our team to identify and develop innovative legal and regulatory strategies that could be pursued to enhance these climate-related risks so as to encourage deep and sustained reductions in emissions. Areas of likely focus include, but are not limited to:

  • Common law liability under state or federal law;
  • Insurance and reinsurance contracts;
  • Securities law obligations, including climate-related risk disclosures and shareholder litigation and resolutions (EDF’s Legal and Regulatory team researched and drafted the petition to the SEC leading to the adoption of SEC climate risk guidance);
  • Private environmental governance

We expect this project will include extensive engagement with outside experts and stakeholders, both to ensure that our analysis is robust and well-informed and to enable broad dissemination of our findings.

National scale climate protections established under the Obama Administration for power plants, oil and gas facilities, and the transportation sector are an essential foundation for transitioning the nation towards a lower carbon economy. But, they must be just the start if we are going to avert the worst impacts of climate change. The Fellow will help the legal and regulatory team defend these important protections and develop a strategic, science-based and visionary roadmap for continued emissions reductions so that EDF can drive a strong vision for climate progress and one that can be fully deployed when the opportunity for national scale action returns. This will include technical analysis to identify major opportunity areas, the development of potential policy approaches, and the compilation of external-facing materials to help EDF make the case for climate progress.

The successful applicant will have the opportunity to conduct their own technical and policy research while also contributing to and helping to oversee research by leading technical experts, thus providing them with an opportunity to simultaneously build breadth and depth in their experience.

Examples of specific responsibilities, projects, tasks, and/or duties of the Fellow include:

  • Research and analysis related to attribution science, insurance, corporate and securities law, private environmental governance
  • Contribute to the development of white papers, articles, and blogs
  • Engage internal and external subject matter experts as appropriate to advance technical research and gather policy perspectives
  • Develop presentations and other materials to communicate research findings and policy benefits to internal and external audiences


Candidates should have coursework or prior internships in the field of environmental policy. They should be able to point to technical coursework that demonstrates an ability and interest in leveraging strong analytic and quantitative skills to solve complex problems. Specific coursework on climate change policy, finance, economics, or engineering are a plus.

Professional Development

  • The Fellow will have the opportunity to work with and learn from leading policy, technical, and legal experts from across the organization as this position will involve collaborations across a variety of teams.
  • The Fellow will also have numerous opportunities to interact with and learn from leading experts across the country through day-to-day research activities as well as through participation in local events, workshops, and training seminars. In their first year of the fellowship, the successful applicant will also have the opportunity to join other EDF staff at the annual off-site retreat.
  • In addition, professional development reimbursements, up to a certain amount, are eligible for courses that directly contribute to the work of the employee.