Clean air, climate change expert selected for state’s top environmental health position

The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment | April 19, 2019

John Putnam, chair and longtime member of the Regional Air Quality Council, will assume the top environmental health role in Colorado, starting May 6. As the Director of Environmental Programs at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Putnam will serve as a senior adviser to Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan. The Environmental Programs Director oversees the federal Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the mitigation of hazardous materials– as well as key components of Senate Bill 181 and other state laws and programs. 

“After a nationwide search of top environmental professionals, we are so fortunate to have John come on board. With John at the helm of environmental programs, the state will lead on reversing the consequences of climate change, work to get the Front Range swiftly into ozone compliance,” said Ryan. “Governor Polis has asked us to take bold action to ensure that every Coloradan has clean air to breathe and a healthy environment to live in and enjoy, and we intend to do just that.”  

Putnam is an environmental attorney with more than 25 years of experience, most recently as managing partner of Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell, LLP.  He has represented states, counties, cities, and clean electricity producers on complex environmental, transportation, and energy problems nationwide. His core strengths are the Clean Air Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, transportation impacts and noise, and much more. Putnam’s legal background spans all areas of environmental law and rules.   

“Like so many others who want to move Colorado forward, I’m thrilled at the direction Gov. Polis is taking the state and am so grateful to now get to be a part of it,” said Putnam.“We are clear in our mission of always putting the health and well-being of Coloradans first, and in doing so, we will preserve the majestic environment that we all cherish as Colordans. It’s time to build off of the Colorado’s past progress to ensure all Coloradans can enjoy clean and healthy air, water, and lands.” 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment houses four environmental divisions: the Air Pollution Control Division, the Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division, the Water Quality Control Division,  and the Environmental Health and Sustainability Division, which  ensures consumer protection around food, plus facilitates recycling and other programs.