William Ruckelshaus, an "extraordinary public servant" (Ronald Reagan), has passed away at age 87.
In 1970, one Richard Milhous Nixon, in his State of the Union, called environmental preservation "a common cause of all people in this country. It is a cause of particular concern to young people in this country. These young Americans, because they more than we will reap the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs which are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later. Clean air, clean water, open spaces-these should once again be the birthright of every American.
Nixon presented to Congress a 37 point message on the environment, and an organization to organize and implement the recommendations. Thus was the Environmental Protection Agency created, and Wm. Ruckelshaus became the first Administrator, December 4, 1970. It's mission; To Protect Human Health and the Environment.
In his years as the EPA Administrator 1970-1973, the EPA banned DDT, removed lead from gasoline, established air quality standards under the new Clean Air Act; established EPA law enforcement; clean water permitting for cities and industry; established the foundations for so many environmental protections; established that environmental impact statements would be required under the new National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA, 1970), radiation control guidelines, land use regulations (1972), revised water pollution legislation (1972) with the goal of zero discharge; passage of the Fed. Environmental Pesticide Control Act(1972); safety standards for farm workers (1974); to establish and monitor environmental baselines and
perform all necessary environmental research and adherence to science; 18 million acres of toxic waters cleaned; and provide both technical and financial assistance to states for conforming to EPA standards.
Then , at the height of the Watergate scandal 1973, Pres. Nixon named him Acting Head of the FBI, then Deputy US Attorney General under Elliot Richardson. When Nixon ordered Richardson to fire the lead Watergate investigator, Archibald Cox, Richardson refused and resigned. Nixon then had his chief of staff, Gen. Alexander Haig, order Mr. Ruckelshaus to fire Mr. Cox. Mr. Ruckelshaus said he had , during his confirmation, swore that the would not fire Mr. Cox. He refused and resigned.
Wm. Ruckelshaus, a true American of "unshakable integrity". Breathes there today a Republican of such impeccable principle?
In 1983 Ronald Reagan appointed him as the EPA Administrator 'to revive the demoralized and foundering agency", which he lead until 1985, and did indeed revive the EPA.
In 2008 Time Magazine recognized him as among the "best Cabinet Secretaries in US history".
The EPA of Donald Trump, Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and every GOP is the lovechild of every anti-environmental zealot, hustling health, safety, and environmental abolition, seemingly answering only to those for whom the EPA is a polluter's and developer's nightmare.
Trump's first EPA choice, Scott Pruitt, a darling of the fossil fuel industry, confirmed by every GOP senator, sued the EPA at least 14 times while Att'y. General of Oklahoma, revoked the Clean Power Plan, denies climate change and ignores the law which states that the EPA must safeguard against climate pollution under the Clean Air Act, shows flagrant disregard for science and research, all the while downsizing and gagging staff, cutting oversight of state programs, and slashing programs to maintain core health and safety programs and responding to new threats.
In light of at least thirteen federal allegations of illegal and unethical violations, he was departed.
Then to be replaced by Andrew Wheeler, energy and coal lobbyist, confirmed by every Republican including Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski. His other attributes: VP of the Washington Coal Club, lobbied to open Bears Ears Nat'l. Monument to uranium mining, worked to defeat climate related legislation, represented many clients seeking energy deregulation, pro Pebble and critical of previous EPA Pebble science, and purveyor of racist rants toward Mr. B. Obama.
Shortly after his inauguration Donald Trump issued an order to to erase much of the EPA's "science" from the public eye. "Science" was likewise erased from the EPA office of Science and Technology.
The EPA, absolutely essential to our greater societal health and well-being, and like every other federal agency dedicated to the protection and advancement of our citizenry, has fallen victim to the acquisitive, uncivil, and plutocratic ideology of the Trump administration and the Republican party and his Cabinet functionaries-anti-science, anti-regulation, anti-reason, anti-environment, anti-tax, and anti-our most sacred democratic values.
Not long after the 2016 election, Mr. William Ruckelshaus said that he has never witnessed "anything like the tumult the Agency faces now. It is going to set us back in ways we cannot possibly predict".
Alaska's delegation has not merely aligned with these meanest, foulest, and most destructive policies and the perpetrators responsible, but march in lock step with Donald Trump, his progeny and in-laws, and every exceptionally unqualified and malevolent Cabinet secretary and sycophant. They are forever joined at the hip, complicit and accessory to these catastrophes, and to his crimes.
David Brooks has written, "The aroma of bigotry,(and autocracy, fear-mongering, misogyny, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, lying-as-doctrine, criminality, cronyism,and disdain for democracy) infuses the whole operation and anybody (Sen. Sullivan, Sen. Murkowski, Rep. Young) who aligns themselves closely will end up sharing in the stench". This stench of your creations, Sen. Sullivan, Sen. Murkowski, and Rep. Young, is your ultimate and enduring legacy.
With most grave apologies Mr. William Ruckelshaus, how in this time we so miss your unshakable integrity and devotion to our health, safety, environment, and welfare, and to the ideals of our Founding Fathers.
Peter Mjos is a retired long time Anchorage physician.