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John Pendergrass

John Pendergrass
Vice President, Programs and Publications
(202) 939-3846

John Pendergrass has researched and written on a broad range of legal and policy issues focusing on what works in practice and how to improve the implementation of law. He was among the first to address improving legal and administrative mechanisms for protecting public health and the environment from the risks at contaminated sites where some hazardous substances are left in place. His research and writing on such institutional controls and long-term stewardship have led to changes in national policy and in the laws of many states. He has also written extensively about innovative state environmental and natural resource programs as well as federal preemption of state laws. He leads ELI’s Judicial Education Program to educate judges throughout the world about environmental law. Since 1997, Pendergrass has been a member of the accreditation council overseeing environmental and other management systems certification bodies in the United States. He also is the chair of the council that oversees energy management systems in the U.S. Pendergrass has been with ELI since 1988.

Media Guide


  • Climate Change: UNFCCC, REDD+, energy subsidies, energy efficiency
  • International: governance, enforcement, sustainable development, natural resource management
  • Judiciary: judicial education
  • Law: Superfund enforcement
  • Pollution: Superfund, brownfields cleanup and redevelopment, hazardous substances, nanotechnology
  • Water: national pollutant discharge elimination system permit system and state programs


  • J.D., Case Western Reserve University, 1979
  • B.S. in environmental science, Michigan State University, 1976

Selected Publications

John Pendergrass, Life-Cycle Costs of Institutional Controls, in Amy Edwards, ed., Implementing Institutional Controls at Brownfields and Other Contaminated Sites 2d Ed. (ABA, 2012).

Linda Breggin and John Pendergrass, Regulation of Nanoscale Materials under Media-Specific Environmental Laws, in D. Bowman, G. Hodge, and A. Maynard, eds., International Handbook on Regulating Nanotechnologies, (Edward Elgar, 2010).

John Pendergrass, Guidance Note on the Judiciary, in Pollution Prevention and Abatement Handbook, (World Bank 2010).

Linda Breggin, Robert Falkner, Nico Jaspars, John Pendergrass, and Read Porter, Securing the Promise of Nanotechnologies: Towards Transatlantic Regulatory Cooperation (Chatham House 2009)

John Pendergrass, Legal Background to Off-Site Contamination, in Robert A Simons ed., When Bad Things Happen to Good Property (Envtl. L. Inst. 2006).

John Pendergrass & Katherine N. Probst, Estimating the Cost of Institutional Controls (2005).

John Pendergrass, Institutional Controls in the States: What Is and Can Be Done to Protect Public Health at Brownfields, 35 Conn. L. Rev. 1255 (2003).

John Pendergrass, Robert A. Simons & Kimberly Winson-Geideman, Quantifying Long-Term Environmental Regulatory Risk for Brownfields: Are Reopeners Really an Issue?, 46 J. Envtl. Plan. & Mgmt. 257 (2003).

John Pendergrass, States as Engines of Sustainable Development: Some Think They Can, 32 ELR 11365 (Dec. 2002) (Envtl. L. Rep.).

John Pendergrass, Sustainable Redevelopment of Brownfields: Using Institutional Controls to Protect Public Health, 29 ELR 10243 (May 1999) (Envtl. L. Rep.).

Around the States (column), Envtl. F. (1991 to 2010).