David J. Hayes is a Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School and a Senior Fellow at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Since returning to Stanford in January 2023, Hayes has been working through Stanford’s Law School and the new Doerr Sustainability School on climate matters, with a special focus on climate resilience and nature-based climate solutions, including climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices.
Hayes served as Special Assistant to the President for Climate Policy from January 20, 2021 until October 2022. As a senior member of President Biden’s White House Climate Policy Office, Hayes developed and implemented national climate policy in three principal areas: reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change—with a special focus on reducing methane emissions and deploying nature-based climate solutions; accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy—with a special focus on successful permitting of clean energy projects (e.g., offshore wind; transmission); and organizing the Biden Administration’s whole-of-government strategy to improve resilience to climate-related disasters.
Prior to joining the White House, Hayes was a climate policy advisor for the Biden-Harris Transition and, from 2017 to 2021, was the founder and Executive Director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at the NYU School of Law, where he worked with state attorneys general who were challenging the Trump Administration’s attempts to roll back climate, environmental and clean energy laws and policies.
Hayes served as the Senate-confirmed Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer at the U.S. Department of the Interior for Presidents Barack Obama (2009-2013) and Bill Clinton (1998-2001). At the Interior Department, Hayes co-chaired the Secretary’s Energy and Climate Change Task Force, where he led efforts to accelerate the development of renewable energy on public lands and offshore waters and directed Interior’s climate change adaptation strategy, including the formation of Landscape Conservation Cooperatives and regional Climate Science Centers. Hayes also played the lead role in settling the long-standing Cobell Indian trust litigation and overseeing implementation of the $3.4 billion Cobell settlement, including the $1.9 billion dollar buy-back program to return fractionated lands to tribal control. He was the first Administration official dispatched to the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and had overall responsibility for the Department’s internal regulatory and cleanup response actions and for coordinating with Administration principals and BP executives during the spill and its aftermath. Hayes also engaged deeply in international wildlife protection initiatives, including by developing the Obama Administration’s anti-trafficking initiative relating to the African elephant and rhinoceros poaching crisis. When serving as Deputy Secretary in the Clinton Administration, Hayes negotiated the acquisition of the Headwaters Forest in northern California (the largest remaining old-growth redwood forest in the U.S.) and played a principal role in negotiating major water settlements in the Colorado River basin and the California Bay-Delta.
Before and between his time in government, Hayes was a lecturer in law at Stanford Law School; a partner and Global Chair of the Environment, Land & Resources Department at the international law firm of Latham & Watkins; and Chair of the Board of the Environmental Law Institute. Hayes is member of the American College of Environmental Lawyers and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Stanford Law School.
- Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment
- High Meadows Environmental Institute
- Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment
- Center for the Study of Democratic Politics