From "Mr. Clean" to the "Ice Queen": The First Four EPA Administrators Open Access

Behan, Molly (2017)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/5425kb58r?locale=en
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Abstract

Throughout the 1960s, national support for the protection of the environment began to grow stronger, culminating in the first celebration of Earth Day on April 22, 1970. American citizens were not the only ones showing support for environmental protection at this time; the federal government began to take a heightened interest in increasing their role in environmental protection.

Congress voted in favor of Richard Nixon's Reorganization Plan No. 3 on December 3, 1969. The plan was only one part of many different federal efforts to address the increase in environmental sentiment. This Reorganization Plan created the Environmental Protection Agency, which was designed to coordinate federal efforts for stronger environmental protection. One role that the president played in the EPA, was appointing the administrator of the agency. This thesis examines the tenures of the first four administrators of the EPA: William Ruckelshaus, Russell Train, Douglas Costle, and Anne Gorsuch.

The thesis examines the actions and ideologies of each of these administrators, in conjunction with national events of the 1970s and early 1980s. The 1970s, although a decade of environmental fervor, was a decade also defined by energy crises, environmental disasters, and economic downturn. Each of the EPA administrators approached the difficulties that their tenure faced in different ways. In particular, Ruckelshaus, Train, and Costle, approached their management of the agency in a practical and understanding manner, whereas Gorsuch approached her time as administrator as an ideologue who was unwilling to waver in her beliefs on federal environmental protection.

Using public opinion surveys, newspaper articles, memoirs, and congressional reports and hearings, this thesis outlines and compares the methods of each of these administrators. The project places the actions of the administrators in a context of national environmental sentiment, presidential influence, and national events, in order to educate the reader about the complexity that surrounded the first fourteen years of managing the EPA, and how each administrator took on the task.


Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction........................................................1

1. The EPA's First Years........................................4

2. Environmental Protection During the Energy Crisis................23

3. Hazardous Waste, Anne Gorsuch, and a Conflict of Philosophies................49

Conclusion.........................................................67

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