Webinar Explores Massachusetts v. EPA with Professor Richard Lazarus, author of The Rule of Five: Making Climate History at the Supreme Court 

Richard Lazarus

Professor Richard J. Lazarus of Harvard University discussed his new book, The Rule of Five: Making Climate Change History at the Supreme Court, in a webinar on Oct. 22, 2020. sponsored by the Coleman P. Burke Center for Environmental Law. The webinar is available for on-demand viewing and for online CLE credit.

The focus of Lazarus’ book is Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, the landmark Supreme Court decision that held that greenhouse gases are air pollutants that may be regulated under the federal Clean Air Act. This was arguably the most important environmental decision by the Supreme Court in the past 25 years. 

In the webinar (as in his book), Lazarus traced the history of the Mass v. EPA litigation, telling the story of how an improbable effort produced a tremendous environmental victory. Drawing on his personal interviews with participants in the litigation and a close examination of previously unreleased materials, Lazarus explains how the Mass v. EPA decision came about, how U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens was able to corral a fifth vote for his landmark opinion, and what it means for environmental law. 

After his initial, multimedia presentation, Lazarus took questions from the audience about environmental law, the Court’s decision, and the future of climate change litigation.

The program was moderated by Center Director Jonathan H. Adler, and was just one of a series of programs sponsored by the Burke Center intended to showcase different views and perspectives on environmental law. Additional programs will be highlighted on the Center’s website.