Richard Nixon on Environment
President of the U.S., 1968-1974
1969: Halt all dumping in the Great Lakes
In his State of the Union Address of 1969, President Nixon detailed a 37-point message on the American environment that included goals ranging from monitoring motor vehicle emissions standards to halting all dumping in the Great Lakes.
President Nixon's ambitious endeavor would eventually lead to his request for Congress to establish the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Under the express direction of President Nixon and following public hearings, in late 1970 the EPA was established and "a new era of environmental protection began."
This endeavor was the first attempt by any administration to specifically address environmental problems through a newly created, independent agency.
Source: Cameron Lynch in W&M Env. Law Review, vol. 26 #1, p.215-216
, Jan 1, 2001
1970: Created cabinet-level Council on Environmental Quality
Mounting environmental concerns in the late 1960s drove President Nixon to begin to officially examine the problem in depth. To aid his administration in developing environmental policy, Nixon first created the Council on Environmental
Quality ("CEQ")--a cabinet committee overseen and coordinated by the White House Office of Science and Technology. Eventually, lack of interest and experience of this council's members forced Nixon to name a specialized task force with significant
environmental experience to address the problem. The task force's main duty was to develop Nixon's first major environmental address, which he delivered to Congress in February of 1970. Following this address, the National Environmental
Protection Agency ("NEPA") was enacted and it served as a predecessor, in both theory and structure, to what would eventually become the EPA.
Source: Cameron Lynch in W&M Env. Law Review, vol. 26 #1, p.218-219
, Jan 1, 2001
1970-72: Created EPA which passed Clean Air Act
While there was some hesitation and concern regarding Nixon's intentions in creating the EPA, there is a general consensus that Nixon's true motivation was to purify the nation from an environmental standpoint.
Disillusioned by the lack of cooperation and cohesion on environmental policy, as well as by the overall ineffectiveness of the NEPA, Nixon utilized an executive order to create the EPA, an independent government organization, in late 1970.
The EPA subsequently passed its first piece of legislation, the Clean Air Act, in 1972. While Nixon is generally scorned as a presidential figure, his actions in the environmental realm appear, by most accounts,
to have been genuine and thorough and are often overlooked in the historical record.
Source: Cameron Lynch in W&M Env. Law Review, vol. 26 #1, p.219
, Jan 1, 2001
Built the SST; environmental concerns will be met
Q. The two reports on the supersonic transport have been kept secret. Now a group of conservationists and others are in court asking that one of these reports be made public. Will you?
A. The problem here is that when reports are prepared f
President, they are supposed to be held in confidence and some of those who participate in the making of those reports have that assurance. Now, with regard to the SST, I have satisfied myself, after long deliberation and considering both of
reports, that the arguments with regard to the environment could be met, that this prototype should be built. What is involved here is not just 150,000 jobs which will be lost if we don't build it; but what is lost here is the fact that the U
been first in the world in commercial aviation from the time of the Wright brothers, decides not just to be second but not even to show. I think the US should build it, and I believe that we can answer the arguments of the conservationists
Source: The President's News Conference (APP#454)
, Dec 10, 1970
Establish the Environmental Protection Agency
Our national government today is not structured to make a coordinated attack on the pollutants which debase the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land that grows our food. Indeed, the present governmental structure for dealing with
environmental pollution often defies effective and concerted action. Despite its complexity, for pollution control purposes the environment must be perceived as a single, interrelated system. Present assignments of departmental responsibiliti
reflect this interrelatedness.
A far more effective approach to pollution control would:
Source: Message to Congress to Establish the EPA (APP#215)
, Jul 9, 1970
- Identify pollutants.
- Trace them through the entire ecological chain, observing and recording changes in form as they occur.
- Determine the tot
of man and his environment.
- Examine interactions among forms of pollution.
- Identify where in the ecological chain interdiction would be most appropriate.
Page last updated: Apr 28, 2013