The Environment

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  Environmental Policy A Specialty Of Obama'S Solicitor GeneralMarch 26, 1998 20:14 President Obama's newly confirmed solicitor, Elena Kagan, is receiving a warm welcome from environmental lawyers and scholars who are hailing the former Harvard Law School dean for her background in administrative law and for revitalizing the school's environmental law program.

After the Senate confirmed her, 61-31, last week, Kagan became the 45th solicitor general -- and the first woman ever to hold the position. She will argue for the government in Supreme Court cases.

"Dean Kagan has a lot of experience in administrative law, so she will be especially well-attuned to these regulatory issues that typically come before the high court in environmental cases," said John Nagle, an environmental law professor at the University of Notre Dame's law school.

Kagan, 48, served in the Clinton administration from 1995 to 1999, first as associate counsel in the White House Counsel's Office and then as deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy and deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law, she clerked for U.S. Appeals Court Judge Abner Mikva and later for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, himself a former solicitor general.

She returned to Harvard Law as a visiting professor in 1999 and joined the school full-time in 2001. She has served as dean since 2003.

"She left a nationally visible mark on environmental law at Harvard," said Jim Rossi, a visiting environmental law professor at Harvard on loan from Florida State University. "For many years, Harvard was not known for a primary expertise in the environmental jurisprudence, and that changed under Dean Kagan's watch."

Rossi said Kagan was responsible for some smart hires and for bringing high-profile visitors in environmental law and boosting clinical offerings in that area.

In 2005, Kagan lured Jody Freeman away from UCLA School of Law to become the founding director of Harvard's Environmental Law Program. A national expert in environmental policy and regulation, Freeman recently accepted a post as counselor for energy and climate change in the Obama White House.
  After 11 Years Of Waiting, Hawaiian Plant Becomes First Species Protected Under Endangered Species Act By Obama AdministrationMarch 17, 1998 10:57 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it is listing a Hawaiian plant, Phyllostegia hispida, from the island of Molokai as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The plant is the first species protected under the Endangered Species Act by the Obama administration. The plant was first designated as a candidate for protection in 1997. It was recently thought extinct and Fish and Wildlife had considered emergency-listing the species, but that was delayed by the Bush administration. Today, just 24 plants of the species are known in the wild.