Steve Chapman on the GOP's Environmental Disaster


By the time he died last month, Russell Train was largely forgotten. Most Americans didn't know that, as The New York Times' obituary said, he helped shape "the world's first comprehensive program for scrubbing the skies and waters of pollution, ensuring the survival of ecologically significant plants and animals, and safeguarding citizens from exposure to toxic chemicals." Here's the really surprising part: Train was a Republican. He served as the first chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality under one Republican president, Richard Nixon, and as the second head of the Environmental Protection Agency under another, Gerald Ford. After that, he ran the U.S. affiliate of the World Wildlife Fund.

Back then, writes Steve Chapman, there was no conflict between being a Republican (or a conservative) and favoring environmental protection