Veteran Justice Department environmental lawyer John Cruden is leaving government service to take over as president of the Environmental Law Institute.
Cruden, who serves as the career deputy assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, is set to start at ELI later this month. A past president of the District of Columbia Bar, Cruden has supervised all federal civil environmental litigation since 1995.
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli and Steven McKinney of Birmingham’s Balch & Bingham, who chairs the American Bar Association’s environment section, are among the speakers expected to honor Cruden at a retirement celebration June 22 at Main Justice.
Cruden called his decision to leave Justice “bittersweet,” balancing his love for his government post—“I have the best career job in the government,” he said—with his enthusiasm for his new role leading the Environmental Law Institute. ELI is a nonpartisan research and education outlet based in Washington. Program areas include climate and energy, freshwater and ocean and land and biodiversity.
Responsible for the environmental division’s enforcement and defense sections, Cruden supervises more than 225 lawyers. Recently, he was a leading attorney in the Justice Department’s response to last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Cruden has twice served as acting assistant attorney general for the environment division. (Colleagues once gave him a fake Oscar, noting his “best acting” performance.)