John C. Cruden Named President of Environmental Law Institute

Posted on June 22, 2011 by Rachael Bunday


Respected DOJ Attorney Will Focus on Building Consensus,

Preserving the Rule of Law



The Board of Directors of the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) announced on June 13th, that John C. Cruden has been selected as the organization’s fourth President. Mr. Cruden will join ELI from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), where he serves as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. 


In his tenure at DOJ, Mr. Cruden helped shape comprehensive solutions to some of our nation’s most complex and controversial environmental disasters including Love Canal, Exxon Valdez and, most recently, Deepwater Horizon. Known for his negotiating and problem-solving skills as well as his expertise in the courtroom, Mr. Cruden has earned broad respect for his ability to work with diverse parties and his focus on preserving what works best in our nation’s laws.


ELI Board Chairman William Eichbaum, Vice President of Marine and Arctic Policy for the World Wildlife Fund, praised Mr. Cruden for his leadership, integrity and ability to build consensus around highly charged issues.


“The increasingly contentious and partisan conversations about the environment undermine the effective application of law and environmental policies, and, with them, decades of environmental progress,” said Eichbaum. “John has been enormously effective at changing that dynamic. He has an unmatched track record of bringing people together and creating real, meaningful solutions to today’s toughest environmental challenges. He has the deep respect and admiration of environmentalists, corporate CEOs, the legal community, and policymakers, and he brings that proven experience and intense commitment to ELI. Together, we will redouble our efforts to make sure the law works for the environment.”  


“The nation and the world are at an important crossroads,” said Cruden. “For 40 years, the U.S. has been among the world leaders in developing a legal framework to control pollution and manage our natural resources. Republican and Democratic presidents passed historic laws with broad bi-partisan support from Congress that benefit our nation, our people and our economy.  That legacy—the essential framework of an efficient system of governance and level playing field grounded in the rule of law, sound science and public participation—is in jeopardy. 

ELI plays a critical role promoting sound law and policy solutions to tough environmental problems. I am truly honored to join this extraordinary organization, and I look forward to doing great things together.”


At the Department of Justice, Mr. Cruden has been in senior leadership positions for over two decades, leading the Department in environmental civil litigation. Before joining the Department, he held a number of important positions including Chief Legislative Counsel of the Army, General Counsel of the Defense Nuclear Agency, and a Staff Judge Advocate in Europe. Mr. Cruden has also served as the President of the District of Columbia Bar – the first government attorney to be elected to and serve in that position – and is currently the Immediate Past Chairman of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. A graduate of West Point, he served in airborne, ranger and special forces units in Germany and Vietnam before attending Santa Clara Law School. Mr. Cruden is also a swim coach for the Special Olympics and a past recipient of Fairfax County’s Volunteer of the Year award for his work with mentally handicapped children. 


ELI's third president, Leslie Carothers, is retiring after eight years of service.  She will be a scholar-in-residence and teach a research seminar at Pace University Law School in the 2011-2012 academic year.  Pace offers one of the nation's leading environmental law programs as part of its curriculum.  “ELI is profoundly grateful for Leslie’s leadership and stewardship,” said Eichbaum. “The next generation of environmental lawyers coming out of Pace will benefit enormously from her insights and practical experiences.”


For more information on ELI and John Cruden, please click here


You may also view a video of John discussing his new role as ELI President by clicking here.




ELI fosters innovative, just, and practical law and policy solutions to enable leaders across borders and sectors to make environmental, economic, and social progress. ELI delivers timely, insightful, impartial analysis to opinionmakers, including government officials, environmental and business leaders, and journalists. ELI is a clearinghouse and a town hall, providing common ground for debate on important environmental issues.


For more information, please contact Brett Kitchen at


Environmental Law Institute

2000 L St. NW Suite 620

Washington, DC 20036

Pace Law School Seeking Assistant Dean of Environmental Programs and Professor of Law

Posted on March 30, 2011 by Rachael Bunday

Pace Law School in White Plains, NY is seeking an Assistant Dean of Environmental Programs and Professor of Law for Designated Project or Service (Assistant Dean) for its Center for Environmental Legal Studies (CELS). Please see the job listing.

Winner of the Stephen E. Herrmann Environmental Writing Award for 2010

Posted on October 25, 2010 by Rachael Bunday

The American College of Environmental Lawyers announces the Stephen E. Herrmann Environmental Writing Award for 2010. The winner is Kate R. Bowers for her Note, Saying What the Law Isn't: Legislative Delegations of Waiver Authority in Environmental Laws, 34 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 257 (2010).  You may view her article here.

Climate Change Policy

Posted on October 18, 2010 by Rachael Bunday

The American College of Environmental Lawyers has adopted the following policy statement on Climate Change. The statement reflects the collective position of the College and not of any individual member.


BE IT RESOLVED, that the American College of Environmental Lawyers urges the Congress of the United States to enact legislation to address climate change without delay;


AND, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the American College of Environmental Lawyers urges that the United States actively promote international action to address climate change.

Climate Change Policy

Posted on October 18, 2010 by Rachael Bunday

The American College of Environmental Lawyers has adopted the following policy statement on Climate Change. The statement reflects the collective position of the College and not of any individual member.


BE IT RESOLVED, that the American College of Environmental Lawyers urges the Congress of the United States to enact legislation to address climate change without delay;


AND, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the American College of Environmental Lawyers urges that the United States actively promote international action to address climate change.


Posted on June 23, 2010 by Rachael Bunday

ACOEL member Richard Lazarus has been appointed as staff director for the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, the commission announced Tuesday.

Lazarus, a Harvard University Law School graduate and current professor of environmental law at Georgetown University, will be tasked with coordinating the investigation that will determine what new regulations deepwater drilling will face after the Obama administration’s moratorium on the activity is lifted.

Current ACOEL president Jeff Thaler, a partner at Bernstein Shur, in Portland, Maine, applauded the commission’s choice.

“The Commission made a wise choice in selecting Richard Lazarus as staff director,” said Thaler.  “Prof. Lazarus is a superb environmental lawyer and legal scholar with broad experience inside and outside of government.  The College is proud to have him as a member.”

ACOEL Member Awarded First Columbia University Climate Change Chair

Posted on December 14, 2009 by Rachael Bunday

LAW: Climate change, a 'popular' area of law, gets its first endowed professor (12/14/2009)

Annie Jia, E&E reporter

Columbia University has established what it says is the world's first endowed professorship in climate change law.

The endowment will be a permanent source of funding for the director of the university's Center for Climate Change Law, which was founded in January. But it also secures a faculty position in a field that, though relatively young, is growing rapidly as climate change becomes an increasingly visible issue and is poised soon to come under complex federal legislation.

"The policies that are being negotiated in Copenhagen right now and that are under debate in Congress and around the country and the world will be implemented through the mechanism of laws," explained Michael Gerard, a longtime environmental lawyer and the center's director, who has been awarded the professorship.

Climate change law emerged as a field only a few years ago and is now the fastest-growing area of environmental law, Gerrard said.

"It was nothing of a field a few years ago," said Gerrard, who began work in the area in 2005, "and it is now by far the most popular subject of ... continuing legal education programs, as well as law school symposia and special journal issues."

From salamanders to the academy

Andrew Sabin, whose foundation, the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, was a major funder of the endowment for the professorship, said he decided to contribute because he has known Gerrard for a long time and "we're good friends. There's nobody better. Ask any environmental lawyer in the country." Sabin declined to state the amount that his foundation contributed to the endowment.

Sabin, president of a precious metals refining company, has worked with Gerrard on several legal cases since the 1990s. The first case was over "some environmental issues" regarding one of the company's factories, Gerrard said.

But Gerrard has not only represented Sabin's company.

A self-proclaimed environmentalist, Sabin has fought a number of developments since the late 1980s that would infringe on the habitat of the Eastern tiger salamander, which is listed as an endangered species in New York state, where he lives.

One fight brought him head-to-head with Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, which was building a mall in Riverside in the mid-1990s.

"The mall hired the best developer lawyer they could find, and I hired the best environmental lawyer," Sabin said. "I did this because of my passion." As a successful businessman, he could afford such suits, whereas environmental organizations often do not have the money to fight them, he said. The case resulted in the creation of a 32.5-acre preserve for the salamanders.

Sabin is also a member of the organization Republicans for Environmental Protection and said he believes firmly in environmental education. As a Republican, he said, he is in a strong position to influence other Republicans' views on climate change "from inside."

"To me, climate change, I believe it's real, I believe it is happening. ... I believe that man has accelerated it; it's not reversible," he said. "By establishing this [endowed professorship], hopefully, a lot of people are going to be educated on climate change."

Litigation around climate change is growing

Gerrard said the number of lawyers dedicated to climate change law in the United States is still "modest."

Hannah Chang, deputy director of the Columbia Climate Center and a postdoctoral research fellow at the university, said that much climate change law work in the United States currently centers on litigation.

Litigation can include everything from attempts to force the government to act -- for example, to regulate greenhouse gases -- to challenges to government regulations -- such as vehicle standards -- to suits seeking monetary redress from corporations for damages from climate change.

In one case, landowners in Mississippi brought a suit against oil, chemical, and coal companies based on the claim that Hurricane Katrina was made worse by climate change, Gerrard said.

A 'whole host of issues'

But as U.S. EPA prepares to release its rules on greenhouse gas emission regulation, and as Congress debates sweeping climate legislation, the legal community is gearing up for much more work in the area.

"Most, if not all, of the law firms with environmental practices are educating themselves and trying to position themselves to do the work when it comes," Gerrard said.

Besides litigation, climate change law could range from regulatory advice to transactional work to lobbying to corporate compliance advice regarding securities disclosures, Gerrard said.

"Treaties and statutes and regulations will be required to determine what emissions are permissible, who will bear the costs, what energy efficiency improvements will be required, how the nations of the world will deal with each other on these issues, how buildings will achieve energy savings -- a whole host of issues will be subject to laws," Gerrard said.

Climate change law is a sweeping area and goes beyond simple environmental law, Gerrard said, who has worked in environmental law for 30 years.

Energy law, corporate law, securities law, tax law, transportation law, agricultural law, international law, trade law and other fields are all involved, he said.