“Lifelong Republican” EPA Chiefs Back Obama

Nov 3, 2008 7:08pm

There is a man-bites-dog quality to this story: the first two administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, both appointed by President Nixon in the 1970s, say they are voting Democratic this year. "We are lifelong Republicans," write William Ruckelshaus and Russell Train in an opinion piece in the Tampa Tribune. "Yet after much thoughtful deliberation we have decided to support Barack Obama…."  The piece is HERE. Ruckelshaus ran the EPA when it began in 1970, and returned from 1983 to 1985 to do the job under President Reagan.  (Students of political history may also recall he was one of the men in Mr. Nixon’s crosshairs during the "Saturday Night Massacre" of October 20, 1973, when the president, angrily trying to fire the Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox, couldn’t find someone to do it.  Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Ruckelshaus, newly-arrived as Deputy Attorney General, both refused and left their jobs.) Train was Ruckelshaus’ successor at the EPA in 1973, serving through the administration of Gerald Ford. Now Ruckelshaus and Train write, "Senator Obama has compellingly stated his intent to re-engage the community of nations in support of policies that will begin the arduous task of realizing a clean and secure future for the planet." They have some kind words for Sen. McCain: "As a senator, John McCain has demonstrated courage and vision on important environmental issues, most notably in his leadership in addressing climate change, a balanced approach to energy policy, and in support for the Law of the Sea." Then this: "However in his quest for the White House he has often modified his policies to appeal to the Republican base. While this may be fortunate for his candidacy, it is unfortunate for the American people." How about EPA chiefs from other Republican administrations?  The most recent to hold the office are still in government.  So let’s look back a few years.  Christine Todd Whitman, the former New Jersey governor who ran the EPA in the first years of the Bush administration, has been campaigning for McCain. William K. Reilly, who headed the EPA during the term of George H.W. Bush, is still on the board of the non-profit World Wildlife Fund, which has offered environmental advice to both candidates.  As for Democrats who ran the EPA?  There’s only one from the last 20 years, Carol Browner, and she’s been advising the Obama camp.

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