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Historical Biography

Richard B. Stewart

Richard B. Stewart, AAG, ENRD
Richard B. Stewart
28th Assistant Attorney General, ENRD, -

Early History/Schooling:  Richard Burleson Stewart was born in Cleveland, Ohio on February 12, 1940.  He graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University in 1961, and received a Rhodes Scholarship to study politics and economics at Oxford University.  He completed his studies there in 1963, and then obtained a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1966.

Tenure as AAG:  Stewart was nominated to be AAG of the Land and Natural Resources Division by President George H.W. Bush in 1989.  In 1990, Stewart determined to change the name of the Division to the Environment and Natural Resources Division to more accurately reflect the work of the Division.  During his time at the Department, the Division partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency to actively pursue parties that violated the Clean Air Act due to improper containment and disposal of asbestos.  Under Stewart’s lead, the Division also increased the number of criminal prosecutions of environmental violations.  Stewart also oversaw the Department’s investigation of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Division’s attempts to reach a negotiated settlement with the company.  Stewart successfully argued State of Nevada v. Watkins (9th Cir.), which rejected a challenge to the Department of Energy’s preliminary site investigations at Yucca Mountain on the grounds that Congress’s selection of that site was unconstitutional.  Stewart resigned in 1991, citing his desire to return to teaching.

Career:  Upon completing law school, Stewart clerked for Justice Potter Stewart of the United States Supreme Court.  After his clerkship, Stewart worked as an associate at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., and then began teaching at Harvard Law School in 1971.  Stewart taught administrative law until accepting the position of AAG in 1989.

When Steward resigned as AAG in 1991, he returned to academe as a visiting professor at Georgetown University.  In 1992, Stewart became a professor of law at New York University, eventually serving as the director of NYU’s Center on Environment and Land Use Law.  He also was the chair and faculty director of the Hauser Global Law School Program.  He has published ten books and 80 articles on environmental policy issues and administrative law.

Personal:  Stewart married Jane Laura Bloom in 1992.

This material is based on the review of a variety of historical sources, and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed.  If you have any corrections or additional information about this individual or about the history of the Division, please contact ENRD.

Updated June 8, 2023