Earth Day: 10 Questions for an Enthusiast

PHOTO: Bob Deans likes to spend time outside. When hes indoors, the plant wall in the kitchen of the NRDCs building is a comforting reminder of nature.

When it comes to holidays in April, most people think of Easter. Maybe Passover. Tax Day is somewhere in there.

And then there's Earth Day, in between the new moon and the end of the month. What exactly is Earth Day, and do you get presents?

We sat down with Bob Deans, the associate communications director of the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, to find out what being an environmentalist is all about. Here's the edited version of the interview:

ABC News: Tell us about your background. Once upon a time ...

Bob Deans: I grew up in Richmond, Va., on the James River, so I grew up wading in the shallows, catching catfish, dodging snakes, developed a real love for the outdoors, watching deer sprint across the fields on an autumn morning, that kind of thing. I was a newspaper reporter for nearly 30 years, most of that time with the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

I tend to spend most of my time now talking to experts who are the masters of their field and then trying to write about it for a general audience, so it's pretty much what I was doing for 30 years in the newspaper business. I don't feel like it's changed that much.

ABC News: Lots of people say environmentalists are left wing. Do you consider yourself a liberal?

Deans: Absolutely not. I'm a classic independent. I don't know that I ever considered myself an environmentalist, and like many of the people I grew up with, they might not consider themselves environmentalists, but when you go for small mouth bass up the James River, nobody cares more about clean water than those people. If you go out in the Chesapeake Bay and talk to the crabbers, they might not consider themselves environmentalists, but they sure as heck care about the health of our oceans.

ABC News: In your new book, "Reckless," you accuse Republicans of committing an "assault" on the environment. Is there not a single Republican you like?

Deans: Dave Reichert (Washington) pretty consistently votes for a healthy future. Roscoe Bartlett (Maryland) is pretty strong on energy issues. Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tennessee) has been pretty good on clean air. Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) has been good on efficiency.

ABC News: Earth Day is coming up – is that like Christmas for you?

Deans: Earth Day is a lens. It's a focal point for us to look at where we are. What's important about Earth Day is that when the first Earth Day happened 42 years ago, Los Angeles was the smog cap of the world. People had seen oil come up on shore in Santa Barbara. The waterways of our heartland were so polluted that the Cuyahoga River literally caught fire, and this alarmed Americans.

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