On November 17, President Barack Obama announced that John Adams, a former adjunct professor who helped form the Law School’s Environmental Law Clinic, will receive a 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor. Adams, who founded the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in 1970, has dedicated a career of over 40 years to environmental law.

"Four decades ago, when there was no such thing as environmental law in our country, when pollution was so severe and commonplace that rivers caught on fire, it took extraordinary vision to even imagine the modern day environmental movement and its place in our society," said NRDC President Frances G. Beinecke in a statement. "John’s vision has guided and sustained NRDC for four decades now; today's extraordinary honor recognizes all that he and the NRDC team have achieved and sets the bar for what we must achieve in the future."

Adams was NRDC's executive director and later its president until 2006. Before founding NRDC, Adams was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

"For forty years I've been privileged to live out my passion, standing up for the natural inheritance that belongs to us all,” Adams said in a November 17 statement. “In receiving this great honor today, I stand on the shoulders of a remarkable NRDC team, and of Americans everywhere, who love this country and believe we share a common duty to safeguard the waters that nourish us, the wildlife that inspires us, the air that sustains us and the land we call home.”

Posted November 19, 2010