My, how time flies! It seems such a short time ago that we were graduating from high school, beginning college as a Biochemistry major, and voting in our first national election. In 1972, Richard Nixon was reelected as President of the United States. Earlier that year, Nixon vetoed the Clean Water Act, because studies had shown that it would be remarkably expensive, and he feared the impact on the federal deficit.
In a bizarre and perhaps even unprecedented congressional vote to override the veto, neither house of congress cast two-thirds of the total votes possible to override. However, about one-third on the Senators and Congressmen abstained from voting! In the Senate, only 52 Senators voted to override the veto, but that was more than two-thirds of the votes actually cast. If only 52 Senators voted for a bill in today’s Congress, we would only hear of the great evil of partisanship that prevented any real progress in Washington. Oddly, the Clean Water Act and its environmental companions of the era, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Air Act, were all hailed as monumental bipartisan accomplishments.
Noted environmentalist Mark Gold provides his view of the Clean Water Act’s 40th anniversary in last Sunday’s Los Angeles Times. See:
Nixon obviously was opposed to the CWA, and even balked at full implementation, fearing the fiscal burdens on a federal budget still paying for the Vietnam War and just beginning to feel the pinch from Medicare, passed just a few year prior. However, he did build the first Environmental Protection Agency and implemented the most sweeping environmental regulations in the USA — and likely in all of Human history.
Despite Nixon’s personal reservations, William Ruckelshaus, the first director of the EPA, says that Nixon “had the most extraordinary [environmental] record any president has ever had.” That’s something few people will ever acknowledge, but the record is quite clear.
Some of you may not acknowledge that your certification exam is only four weeks away! Get cracking this weekend! And remember that MOST is here to help.