Two Veteran Lawyers Nominated for Key Environmental Posts

This week, President Obama nominated two veteran environmental professionals, Janet McCabe and John Cruden, to head key positions at EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation and DOJ’s Environmental and Natural justiceResources Division, respectively.

Ever since Gina McCarthy vacated the air office to become EPA’s Administrator, McCabe has been heading that office in an acting capacity.  Since graduating Harvard Law in 1983, McCabe has held positions in state government (Indiana and Massachusetts), federal government, and a nonprofit.   Given the fact she’s been in the public spotlight for nearly three decades, she is well-known to environmental groups and  industry, and is widely regarded as a pragmatic regulator who is willing to listen to all sides of an issue.  Spending most of her career within state government, she is knowledgeable and sensitive to the many regulatory challenges at the local level and the ever frequent clash of states and the feds.  While I fully expect her to be confirmed, her confirmation hearing is likely to be lively and fireworks-filled, as skeptical members of Congress pepper her with questions about climate change and job-crushing regulations.  You can see her in action here, ably responding to questions from Congressman Giffith (R-VA).

John Cruden, a veteran of Washington DC  (literally and figuratively), will be stepping down from the chief post at the Environmental Law Institute and returning to DOJ ENRD.  For those outside the beltway, John is a member of an elite and distinguished cadre of lawyers in Washington.  After graduating from West Point, John served in airborne, ranger, and Special Forces units in Germany and Vietnam and, after attending law school, served as the Army’s top lawyer.   And when it comes to environmental law and policy, for nearly two decades, he has a long and distinguished career shaping and leading DOJ’s environmental enforcement section, and overseeing seminal cases, such as Love Canal and Exxon Valdez.   He is a public servant in the truest sense of the term, putting principle, integrity, and the public’s interest above all else.   The American public is fortunate to have someone of John’s caliber and integrity willing to take the helm of ENRD.   Here are AG Eric Holder’s farewell remarks when John retired from DOJ in 2011.  I had the pleasure of getting to know and work with John during my tenure at EPA.  And while we didn’t always agree, John was the perfect gentleman, and he and I could always respectfully work through our differences.   I recall one case, in particular, when EPA Administrator, Steve Johnson, was preparing to announce the Good Samaritan initiative as part of President Bush’s Cooperative Conservative effort, but was stymied by an “intergovernmental impasse” of sorts.   The Good Sam Initiative (discussed here) was a new EPA policy aimed at encouraging the cleanup of  abandoned hard rock mines.  After spending weeks arguing with DOJ lawyers over the launch of this initiative, I finally approached John to ask DOJ to stand-down, as the disagreement was over policy rather than law.  He agreed – and the rest is history.

Wishing Janet and John all the best in their new posts.