A Chief Architect of the EPA Passes Away

EPA/Public Domain

Russell E. Train, the conservative bureaucrat who had a massive hand in shaping the E.P.A., passed away today.

In the wake of the Cuyahoga river fire, the Santa Barbara oil spill, the concerns with DDT, and the early Earth Day demonstrations, President Nixon knew he had to address the loudening calls from the American public to enact environmental protections. Train was the guy who built much of that policy, and pushed Nixon to make it stronger. And yes, he was a Republican.

Here's the New York Times:

From 1969 to 1977, as Richard M. Nixon’s first chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and then as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under Gerald R. Ford, Mr. Train was among a select group of senior administration officials and Congressional leaders who shaped the world’s first comprehensive program for scrubbing the skies and waters of pollution, ensuring the survival of ecologically significant plants and animals, and safeguarding citizens from exposure to toxic chemicals.

Mr. Train was widely considered the father of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the cornerstone of all modern federal environmental legislation. Its signature provision was the look-before-you-leap requirement for federal agencies to prepare environmental impact statements before proceeding with any major project.

Mr. Train developed the idea of establishing the Council on Environmental Quality, a policy office within the White House. He also helped persuade the Nixon administration to create the Environmental Protection Agency, empowered to execute and regulate the nation’s new program of safeguarding natural resources and protecting public health.

Current EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson also released the following statement:
his leadership helped set the path for the ongoing work of the EPA. His years with the agency saw landmark environmental achievements whose impacts are still felt, like the passage of the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the initial implementation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System that protects our nation’s waters. He helped pave the way for gas mileage improvements and the adoption of the catalytic converter, and engaged the American people in ensuring the health of the places where we live and work. As a dedicated public servant, he always rose above partisan politics, and remained a respected and vocal supporter of conservation and environmental protection into the last years of his life.
Train left an important mark on our nation's environmental policy, and it's one that endures today. Strange, then, that he passes at a time when his political party is in the process of attempting to dissemble each of his formidable achievements—at no point since its creation have Republicans been more hostile to the EPA. But fear not, Mr. Train. There are still many who're grateful for your work—and actively working to protect your legacy.

Tags: EPA