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James Clift

Deputy Director

James Clift is deputy director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), where he oversees the department’s policy and engagement work. He heads the offices of Legislative Affairs, Public Information, and Great Lakes; as well as three offices created under the administration of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: Climate and Energy, Clean Water Public Advocate, and Environmental Justice Public Advocate.

James helped launch all three new offices – vital steps in pursuing the state’s goal of carbon neutrality in an equitable manner that provides opportunity for all Michiganders and protects the state’s world-class water resources.

He began his work in the state Capitol as a Michigan Senate environmental policy analyst. More recently, he was policy director at the Michigan Environmental Council for 20 years, working on environmental policy with the council’s more than 70 member and partner organizations. A fixture at the Capitol, he coordinated the council’s legislative and policy work on an array of environmental issues including water protection, environmental justice, clean energy, air quality, and climate mitigation and adaptation.

A graduate of Central Michigan University, James earned a Juris Doctorate degree from Wayne State University, where he spent two years assisting in research and editing textbooks and other works of Prof. Robert Abrams, a leading U.S. expert in water law. James is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and its Environmental Law Section.

James has served on numerous natural resource and policymaking advisory councils, including the state’s Water Use Advisory Council, Groundwater Conservation Advisory Council, and Phosphorus Policy Advisory Committee.

He lives in Lansing with his wife, Wendi, and their canine friends Freya and Danu. He enjoys swimming in Michigan’s Great Lakes in almost any season, camping, and cross-country skiing.