James L. Connaughton

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Connaughton addressing Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry

James Laurence Connaughton (born May, 1961) is an American energy industry lawyer and the former George W. Bush administration environmental adviser. Connaughton served as chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Director of the White House Office of Environmental Policy from 2001 to 2009.


Connaughton speaking on climate change in Berlin

Connaughton earned his Bachelor's Degree from Yale University, where he was a member of The Society of Orpheus and Bacchus, one of Yale's undergraduate a cappella groups, and a regular performer and producer in musical theater. In his senior year, Connaughton was selected for the senior society Scroll and Key and became a member of the Whiffenpoofs, the world renowned, senior men's singing group. In 1989, he graduated second in his class, magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, from the Northwestern University School of Law. At Northwestern, he was an Austin Scholar and served as Coordinating Articles Editor of the Northwestern University Law Review. Following Law School, he clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Aspen in the Northern District of Illinois.

Corporate attorney[edit]

Prior to joining the Bush Administration, Connaughton was a partner in the law firm Sidley Austin, in its Environmental Practice Group, dealing with corporate environmental compliance. From 1993 until 2001, Connaughton served as one of the lead U.S. negotiators of the ISO 14000 series of international environmental management and performance consensus standards, including standards on environmental labeling. Connaughton also worked with officials from U.S. EPA, California EPA, and the Environmental Law Institute to help form the Multi-State Work Group on Environmental Management Systems ("MSWG").

At Sidley Austin, Connaughton represented Superfund corporations including General Electric. Connaughton lobbied government on Superfund for organizations including Atlantic Richfield, the Chemical Manufacturers Association, the Aluminum Company of America.[1]

Bush Administration[edit]

The official portrait of Connaughton

Connaughton was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on June 14, 2001, and was appointed by President Bush on June 18, 2001 to serve as the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).

Connaughton coordinated the Cabinet-level committee addressing climate change and energy security policy. With Connaughton's leadership, the administration opposed the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, instead establishing the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate Change, a technology transfer initiative with Pacific Rim nations. Connaughton helped establish the Major Economies Leaders Meetings on Energy and Climate, acting as Bush's personal representative.

In the fall of 2004, Bush designated Connaughton chairman of a new Cabinet Committee on Ocean Policy, tasked with ensuring action on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy's recommendations. Connaughton oversaw the development of the U.S. Ocean Action Plan.[2]

Post-administration career[edit]

In 2009, Connaughton joined the Constellation Energy Group to manage environmental and energy policy and government relations.[3]


  1. ^ Robert S. Devine (June 8, 2004), Bush Versus the Environment, Anchor 
  2. ^ "James L. Connaughton, Chairman, Council on Environmental Quality". georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov. Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  3. ^ "ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT: New Chu can't win". Washington Times. February 24, 2009. 
Government offices
Preceded by
George Frampton
Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality
Succeeded by
Nancy Sutley