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John E. Putnam

General Counsel

John PutnamJohn E. Putnam was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 12, 2022, and sworn in as General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Transportation.  He joined the Biden Administration as the Department's Deputy General Counsel on January 20, 2021.  In this role, he works closely with the Department’s senior leadership and nearly 500 attorneys to manage legal and policy matters concerning all of the Department’s operating administrations.

Prior to joining the Biden Administration, John worked most of his career as a transportation, environment, and energy attorney in Denver and Washington, DC. He represented State departments of transportation, local governments, transportation agencies, and private entities in Colorado and nationwide on a range of transportation, energy, environmental issues under the Federal transportation laws, the Clean Air Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Clean Water Act.

Immediately prior to joining the Department, John was the Director of Environmental Programs for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). He was responsible for overseeing the air, water, waste, and environmental health and sustainability divisions, as well as coordinating with the Air Quality Control Commission, Solid and Hazardous Waste Commission, and Water Quality Control Commission. While at CDPHE, he also served as a Commissioner on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and Trustee for the Natural Resource Damages Trustees.  John worked closely with the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado Energy Office, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, and other agencies to develop Colorado’s Roadmap for Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap, clean truck plans, critical infrastructure COVID-19 support, and other programs for the State of Colorado.

John also served as chair and member of the Regional Air Quality Council, which is the lead air quality planning agency for the Denver metropolitan area and North Front Range, as well as chair of the Boulder Planning Board and Boulder Board of Open Space Trustees.  He also served as a consulted expert or committee member for projects for the United States Government Accountability Office, the Transportation Research Board, the National Academies, and Airports Council International.

John received his law degree from the University of Chicago and Bachelor’s degree from Williams College.


Last updated: Wednesday, May 18, 2022