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Jedele combines a love for the environment and the law

Nov 9, 2023
3 min Read
Cindy Murphy McMahon
Tricia Jedele

Tricia O’Hare Jedele, JD’98, became passionate at an early age about the power of words and the role they could play in protecting nature and the environment.

“As a child, I enjoyed cross-country camping trips with my family,” says Jedele, who has been focused on environmental law and energy policy issues for more than 20 years.

“We would set off for weeks every year and drive around the country with a pop-up trailer, camping in many national and state parks. My favorite part of camping was going to the ranger campfire programs at night. In about an hour’s time, a ranger could make people from all walks of life, who were visiting for different reasons, become stewards of the park. It was storytelling with a purpose.”

The School of Law reaffirmed for her that environmental law was a viable career path and the best path to protecting people and nature.

“Professor Eric Pearson offered a terrific environmental law survey course. Not only did I learn how to read highly cross-referenced and challenging environmental statutes, but we studied landmark environmental law cases,” she says.

“That class really opened my eyes to how important a role the law plays in improving environmental and health outcomes.”

She says she also made “incredible friends” in law school, including her husband, Bret Jedele, JD’98, who also practices environmental law in Rhode Island.

In 2021, Jedele became the Atlantic Coast offshore wind policy manager for the Nature Conservancy (TNC), a nonprofit environmental organization, coordinating and leading offshore wind energy efforts from Maine to North Carolina. She recently was named director of offshore wind policy at TNC.

To do this work, we have to believe we can succeed. I work with the most inspirational, intelligent, resourceful and committed people who make me believe every day that success is possible.
— Tricia O’Hare Jedele, JD’98

Previously, she was a special assistant attorney general in the Environmental Unit at the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office, later returning as chief of the Environment and Energy Unit. She represented Rhode Island in litigation involving challenges to federal environmental regulations and laws in state and federal courts and before the U.S. Supreme Court.

She also was vice president and director of Conservation Law Foundation’s Rhode Island office and formerly private legal counsel to the Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode Island and the Fishermen’s Advisory Board, representing both in complex negotiations to identify appropriate compensation for commercial fishing interests associated with offshore wind development.

She has spent more than a decade on ocean-use planning and was a key voice in developing Rhode Island’s Ocean Special Area Management Plan, which supported the siting decisions for the country’s first offshore wind projects.

At TNC, she works with developers and federal and state agencies to identify the best approaches to support deployment of offshore wind. She was recently appointed to the National Academies of Sciences standing committee on Offshore Wind Energy and Fisheries, which provides insights to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on a variety of issues. She was asked by the UN Global Climate Compact to co-lead the creation of principles to guide government and developer action on biodiversity and offshore wind. The work was presented at the Offshore and Floating Wind Europe Conference 2023 in London and the 28th United Nations Climate Conference, COP 28, in Dubai.

Her work over the decades has only deepened her resolve: “What we do in terms of energy policy today will determine whether all of our efforts to protect the environment and improve health outcomes over the past four or five decades have been worthwhile or for nothing.”

Does she ever feel pessimistic? In a word, no.

“Pessimism is not an option. We will have to meet and defeat some significant challenges over the course of the next decade, not the least of which is successfully overhauling our electricity transmission system and holding back the ocean at the coasts.

“To do this work, we have to believe we can succeed. I work with the most inspirational, intelligent, resourceful and committed people who make me believe every day that success is possible.”