I tend to shy away from enviromental issues, mostly because I don't know all the ins and outs of environmentalism and don't want to sound like an idiot. But occasionally things pop up in the news that I feel I should address and yesterday one such thing did pop up...the death of Senator Gaylord Nelson.
Gaylord Nelson, 1916-2005
Progressive Wisconsin Senator Was Founder Of Earth Day
By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 4, 2005; Page A01
Gaylord Nelson, 89, the three-term Democratic senator from Wisconsin whointroduced mainstream America to the modern environmental movement by founding Earth Day, died of cardiopulmonary disease yesterday at his home in Kensington.
One of the leading environmentalists of the 20th century, Nelson alsoco-sponsored the 1964 Wilderness Act and sponsored or co-sponsored laws thatprotected the Appalachian Trail and banned the pesticide DDT, Agent Orangeand phosphate detergents. He backed fuel efficiency standards in vehiclesand strip-mining controls. He wrote the first environmental education act. He once proposed a ban on the internal combustion engine, as an amendment tothe Clean Air Act.
Sadly, I didn't know Nelson for Earth Day fame, I knew only of his stance on the Vietnam War and his role in the congressional opposition to the war in the last few years of conflict. What a fine, upstanding, and environmentally aware Democrat I am!!
With the unpredictable nature of the judiciary branch right now and the added pressure on the executive branch to select a nominee, I thought it would be nice to recognize the merits of the legislative branch (even if only one man and one senator). Knowing that the legislative branch is due to disappoint me soon enough, this may be the only chance I have to comment on a positive aspect of the legislature before the filibuster fight begins. I'm already hearing that Ted Kennedy and others are threatening to thwart any attempts by the Bush administration to nominate a neo-conservative justice to the bench (as they should, but it really slows down the process...) and it REALLY scares me that Arlen Specter is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee!
With such an impressive environmental legacy and at a time when statesmanship is a thing of the past in Washington, the passing of such a steadfast senator is a great reminder that it doesn't have to be "politics as usual." Everyday people, even unknown senators from Wisconsin, can make an impact on everyday life.