Photo via the Guardian
Ted Kennedy was a masterful politician and an effective, aggressive reformer--he was instrumental in shaping the policies, ideology, and face of modern America. More so, as Slate argues, than any other Kennedy. And though he may have more famous achievements (immigration reform, expanding health care, civil rights for the handicapped) he was also a champion of environmental causes. Here, we pay tribute to the less celebrated--but no less important--legacy of green achievements he left behind.And it's a pretty staggering list of achievements--from cosponsoring the first bill to put fuel economy standards in place, to tightening regulations on oil companies, to fighting to keep ANWR safe, to being an early proponent of renewable energy promotion, Kennedy has a long history of championing green causes and protecting the environment.
Climate Progress has an extensive list of his green accomplishments--here are some of the highlights:
Holding Oil Companies Accountable
During consideration of a 1975 tax cut proposal, Kennedy introduced a provision targeting the oil depletion allowance, which since 1926 had enabled oil producers to exclude 22 percent of their revenues from any taxes. Kennedy’s initiative passed overwhelmingly, trimming the allowance for independent producers and ending it for the major oil companies.
Raising Fuel Economy Standards
Senator Kennedy has a long and distinguished record supporting clean renewable sources of energy and reducing the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels. More than 30 years ago he cosponsored the first law to establish fuel economy standards. And in 2007, he supported a law which increased fuel economy standards, which is essential to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Improving Energy Efficiency
Senator Kennedy was a strong proponent of increasing energy efficiency, which is an essential part of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He was a long time supporter of programs like the weatherization assistance program and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program that helps those most in need reduce their energy bills by improving home energy efficiency.
Kennedy Fought to Cleanup Brownfields Sites and Revitalize Local Communities
In 2001, Senator Kennedy was a lead sponsor of the Brownfields Revitalization and Environmental Restoration Act, which authorized funds for assessment and cleanup of brownfield sites.
Of course, he did much more in his six terms as senator, but there's not room to print the entire list here. But it's safe to say that the US is a greener place thanks to his efforts. Ted Kennedy was one of the most powerful, respected, and influential senators in US history--his progressive vision and will be sorely missed.
More on Ted Kennedy:
Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), a champion of the environment and clean energy, dies at age 77
State Of The Day: Massachusetts
Bobby Kennedy , Jr.: Coal-State Democrats Are "Endorsing Criminal Behavior"