William Ruckelshaus
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William Ruckelshaus

William Ruckelshaus
Ruckelshaus' face
1st and 5th Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

May 15, 1983 - February 7, 1985
PresidentRonald Reagan
Anne Gorsuch Burford
Lee M. Thomas

December 4, 1970 - April 30, 1973
PresidentRichard Nixon
Position established
Russell E. Train
13th United States Deputy Attorney General

July 9, 1973 - October 20, 1973
PresidentRichard Nixon
Joseph Tyree Sneed III
Laurence Silberman
Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Acting

April 30, 1973 - July 9, 1973
PresidentRichard Nixon
L. Patrick Gray (acting)
Clarence M. Kelley
United States Assistant Attorney General
for the Civil Division

January 20, 1969 - December 4, 1970
PresidentRichard Nixon
Edwin L. Weisl Jr.
L. Patrick Gray
Member of the Indiana House of Representatives
from the 26th district

November 9, 1966 - November 6, 1968
Multi-member district[1]
Multi-member district
Personal details
Born
William Doyle Ruckelshaus

(1932-07-24)July 24, 1932
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
DiedNovember 27, 2019(2019-11-27) (aged 87)
Medina, Washington, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
Ellen Urban
(m. 1960; died 1961)

Jill Strickland (m. 1962)
Children5
RelativesJohn C. Ruckelshaus (brother)
John Ruckelshaus (nephew)
EducationPrinceton University (A.B.)
Harvard University (LL.B.)
AwardsPresidential Medal of Freedom (2015)
Seattle Aquarium Medal (2004)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1953-1955
RankSergeant

William Doyle Ruckelshaus (July 24, 1932 - November 27, 2019) was an American attorney and government official.

Ruckelshaus was the first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 1970 to 1973. He subsequently served as acting director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and then as U.S. deputy attorney general. In October 1973, in what became known as the "Saturday Night Massacre", Ruckelshaus, along with U.S. attorney general Elliot Richardson, resigned from their positions rather than obey the order of President Richard Nixon to fire the independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox, tasked with investigating Nixon's role in the Watergate scandal. Ruckelshaus later returned as EPA administrator from 1983 to 1985.

Early life, military service, and education

Ruckelshaus was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on July 24, 1932, the son of Marion Doyle (née Covington) and John K. Ruckelshaus.[2] He was from a distinguished family with a long history of practicing law in Indianapolis and serving in Republican Party politics.[3][4]

He attended parochial schools until the age of 16, then finished high school in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, at the Portsmouth Abbey School.[3]

He began college at Princeton University before being drafted[5] and serving for two years in the United States Army, becoming a drill sergeant at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Washington.[6] He left the Army in 1955, returning to and graduating from Princeton with an A.B. (cum laude) in history in 1957. In 1960 he earned an LL.B. from Harvard Law School and joined the family law firm in Indianapolis.[5]

In 1960, Ruckelshaus married Ellen Urban, who died the following year from complications incurred after giving birth to their twin daughters.[3] In 1962 he remarried, to Jill Strickland, with whom he had three children.[7]

His brother was John C. Ruckelshaus and his nephew was John Ruckelshaus; they also served in the Indiana General Assembly.[8]

Early legal and political career (1960–1970)

After passing the Indiana bar exam, Ruckelshaus joined the family law firm of Ruckelshaus, Bobbitt, and O'Connor.[9]

In 1960, at age 28, he was appointed as Deputy Attorney General of Indiana, and served through 1965.[4][9] For two years he was assigned to the Indiana Board of Health. As counsel to the Indiana Stream Pollution Control Board, Ruckelshaus obtained court orders prohibiting industries and municipalities from heavily polluting the state's water supply; he also helped draft the Indiana Air Pollution Control Act of 1961, the state's first attempt to reduce that problem.[3][9] After that assignment, he spent two years as Chief Counsel for the Attorney General's Office.[9]

In 1964, Ruckelshaus ran as a moderate Republican in the U.S. House election in Indiana's 11th district, losing in the primary to Don Tabbert, a candidate from the conservative wing of the party. He subsequently spent a year as minority attorney for the Indiana Senate.[3][9]

He won a seat in the Indiana House of Representatives in 1966, benefiting from an up year for Republicans overall.[9][10] He served in the House for one term, until 1968.[3][10] He became the first first-term legislator to serve as majority leader of the House.[3][9]

Ruckelshaus ran in the 1968 U.S. Senate election in Indiana, winning the Republican nomination, but losing the general election, 51%-48%,[11][12] to incumbent Birch Bayh.[3][13]

In 1969, President Richard Nixon appointed him as U.S. assistant attorney general for the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Nixon's new administration. Ruckelshaus held the post until his appointment as the first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970.[9]

EPA Administrator (1970–1973)

Ruckelshaus sworn in as first EPA Administrator. The people in the photo from left to right are: President Richard M. Nixon, William Ruckelshaus, Jill Ruckelshaus, and Chief Justice Warren Burger.
Administrator Ruckelshaus on a tour of the Four Corners Air Quality Region by EPA airplane

Ruckelshaus became the United States Environmental Protection Agency's first Administrator when the agency was formed on December 2, 1970, by President Nixon. Although many people were mentioned as possibilities for this new position, Ruckelshaus got the nod based upon the strong recommendation of the U.S. attorney general John N. Mitchell. The idea was initially proposed in a Newsweek opinion column by a friend of Ruckelshaus without his knowledge, after which he approached the head of the U.S. Department of Justice, Mitchell, about the position.[14]

The burning of the Cuyahoga River had created a national outcry; the Justice Department under Mitchell filed a civil lawsuit against the Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation "for discharging substantial quantities of cyanide into the Cuyahoga" at Ruckelshaus' request, seeking an injunction "to halt the discharge of these deleterious materials into the river...."[3][15]

Also during his first tenure at the EPA, Ruckelshaus advocated for and enacted a ban on the insecticide DDT.[3]

Ruckelshaus laid the foundation for the EPA by hiring its leaders, defining its mission, deciding on priorities, and selecting an organizational structure. He also oversaw the implementation of the Clean Air Act of 1970.[16][17]

Saturday Night Massacre (1973)

In April 1973 in the midst of the growing Watergate scandal, there was a major reshuffling of Nixon administration posts due to the resignations of White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman and Domestic Affairs Advisor John Ehrlichman. Ruckelshaus's record of success at EPA and Justice and his reputation for integrity led to his being appointed acting director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, replacing L. Patrick Gray III "who had allowed Nixon aides to examine Watergate files and had even destroyed evidence in the case".[3] Later in the same year, Ruckelshaus was promoted to U.S. deputy attorney general, second in command of the U.S. Department of Justice.[3][4]

On Saturday, October 20, 1973,[3] in the event known as the "Saturday Night Massacre", U.S. attorney general Elliot Richardson and then Ruckelshaus resigned their positions rather than obey orders from President Nixon to fire the Watergate special prosecutor, Archibald Cox. Cox was investigating official misconduct on the part of the president and his aides and sought "tape recordings that ... would incriminate" Nixon.[18] After the resignations, the third in command at the Justice Department, U.S. solicitor general Robert Bork, immediately effected the firing and the abolition of the special prosecutor's office, completing the "Massacre". However, some 300,000 telegrams, release of the tapes, reinstatement of a special prosecutor and ultimately the President's resignation in August 1974 all ensued over the next 10 months.[3]

Private law (1973–1983)

After leaving the Justice Department, Ruckelshaus returned to the private sector as an attorney at the Washington law firm of Ruckelshaus, Beveridge, Fairbanks, and Diamond from 1973 to 1975.[19]

In 1975, Ruckelshaus moved to Seattle, Washington, where he accepted a position as senior vice-president for law and corporate affairs of the Tacoma-based Weyerhaeuser timber company.[3][20] Ruckelshaus remained in that position until 1983.[20]

Return to the EPA (1983–1985)

In 1983, with the EPA in crisis due to mass resignations over the mishandling of the Superfund program,[21] President Ronald Reagan appointed Ruckelshaus to serve as EPA Administrator again. This time it was White House Chief of Staff James Baker who was Ruckelshaus's champion in asking him to return to the agency.[4] The White House acceded to Ruckhelshaus's request to allow him maximum autonomy in the choice of new appointees.[4]

Ruckelshaus's predecessor, Anne Gorsuch Burford (mother of future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch),[22] had depleted the EPA by asking Congress to cut the agency's budget, eliminating jobs and halting enforcement activities.[3][5] On his second day after taking over for Burford, Ruckelsaus fired four people on the agency's management team.[5]

Ruckelshaus attempted to win back public confidence in the EPA, a challenging task in the face of a skeptical press and a wary Congress, both of whom scrutinized all aspects of the agency's activities and some of whom interpreted a number of its actions in the worst possible light.[3] Nonetheless, Ruckelshaus filled the top-level staffing slots with persons of competence, turned the attention of the staff back to the agency's fundamental mission, and raised the esteem of the agency in the public mind.[3][5]

On November 28, 1984, Ruckelshaus announced that he would be retiring as EPA head, effective January 5, 1985, around the start of President Reagan's second term. He remained administrator until February 7, 1985, when his successor, Lee M. Thomas, was confirmed.[22]

Of his two tenures at EPA, Ruckelshaus later reflected:[23]

I've had an awful lot of jobs in my lifetime, and in moving from one to another, have had the opportunity to think about what makes them worthwhile. I've concluded there are four important criteria: interest, excitement, challenge, and fulfillment. I've never worked anywhere where I could find all four to quite the same extent as at EPA. I can find interest, challenge, and excitement as [board chair of a company]. I do have an interesting job. But it is tough to find the same degree of fulfillment I found in the government. At EPA, you work for a cause that is beyond self-interest and larger than the goals people normally pursue. You're not there for the money, you're there for something beyond yourself.[23]

Subsequent career

1980s and 1990s

Ruckelshaus was at Perkins Coie, a Seattle-based law firm, from 1985 to 1988.[20] From 1983 to 1986, he served on the World Commission on Environment and Development set up by the United Nations.[17]

From 1988 to 1999, he served as chief executive officer of Browning-Ferris Industries of Houston, Texas, a major and expanding waste-removal firm.[4] During his tenure, Browning Ferris shifted from a focus on hazardous wastes to recycling. As the company expanded its operations into New York City, Ruckelshaus "helped investigators infiltrate a Mafia-dominated carting conspiracy, leading prosecutors to obtain indictments."[3]

After leaving Browning-Ferris, Ruckelshaus became a partner in the private investment firm, Madrona Venture Group.[4]

President Bill Clinton appointed Ruckelshaus as a member of the President's Council for Sustainable Development from 1993 to 1997,[4] and as U.S. special envoy in the implementation of the Pacific Salmon Treaty from 1997 to 1998.[4][20] He was also appointed Chairman of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board for the state of Washington.[24]

2000s and 2010s

Ruckelshaus was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the United States Commission on Ocean Policy,[3] which submitted its Final Report to the President and Congress, An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century, in 2004.[25]

In June 2010, Ruckelshaus became co-chair of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative.[26]

Ruckelshaus served as a director on boards of several corporations, including Isilon Systems, Monsanto, Cummins, Pharmacia, Solutia, Coinstar, Nordstrom, Pfizer, and Weyerhaeuser.[27]

He was Chair of the Advisory Board of The William D. Ruckelshaus Center[28] at the University of Washington and Washington State University, Chair Emeritus of the University of Wyoming's Ruckelshaus Institute for Environment and Natural Resources, Chairman Emeritus of the World Resources Institute,[29] and Chair of the Meridian Institute. He was a director of the Initiative for Global Development.[30]

In 2008, Ruckelshaus endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 election for President of the United States.[31] In August 2016, Ruckelshaus and another former Republican-appointed EPA administrator, William K. Reilly, jointly endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in the 2016 election.[32]

In 2008, Ruckelshaus was appointed to the Washington State Puget Sound Partnership, an agency devoted to cleaning up Puget Sound.[33] In early 2012, Ruckelshaus was appointed co-chair of the Washington Blue Ribbon Panel on ocean acidification.[34]

In August 2018, Ruckelshaus drew parallels to the actions of President Donald Trump's administration relating to special prosecutor Robert Mueller and Ruckelshaus's own experiences during the Massacre and with President Nixon's "disrespect for the rule of law" in an opinion-editorial in The Washington Post.[18]

Presidential Medal of Freedom

In November 2015, Ruckelshaus was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House.[35][36]

Death

Ruckelshaus died at his home in Medina, Washington, on November 27, 2019, at age 87.[3][37]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Indiana Political History Database: State Representatives from Marion County". Capitol & Washington.
  2. ^ The International Who's Who, 1997-98. 61. Europa Publications. 1997. ISBN 9781857430226.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u McFadden, Robert D. (November 27, 2019). "William Ruckelshaus, who quit in 'Saturday Night Massacre,' dies at 87". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 3, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Oster, Patrick (November 27, 2019). "William Ruckelshaus, Nixon nemesis who headed EPA, dies at 87". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on November 27, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e Smith, Timothy R. (November 27, 2019). "William D. Ruckelshaus, who refused to join in Nixon's 'Saturday Night Massacre,' dies at 87". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2019.
  6. ^ "Ex-EPA chief Ruckelshaus, who quit in Watergate's 'Saturday Night Massacre,' dies at 87", AP via Los Angeles Times, November 27, 2019. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  7. ^ "Ruckelshaus, William Doyle (b. 1932)". HistoryLink.org. Retrieved 2018.
  8. ^ Indiana Legislator Database-John C. Ruckelshaus
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h "William D. Ruckelshaus: Oral History Interview", January 1993. Section, "Biography". Environmental Protection Agency. archive.epa.gov. Retrieved March 19, 2017. See also: "Biography". Archived from the original on September 9, 2009.
  10. ^ a b Indiana Legislator Database-William Ruckelshaus
  11. ^ Guthrie, Benjamin J.; Jennings, W. Pat (July 1, 1969). "Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 5, 1968" (PDF). House.gov. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 19, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  12. ^ "U.S. Senate election results (Indiana, 1968)". Our Campaigns. February 5, 2005. Archived from the original on March 10, 2016. Retrieved 2019.
  13. ^ "William Ruckelshaus '51 Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom". Portsmouth Abbey School. January 25, 2016. Retrieved 2018.
  14. ^ "Early Implementation of the Clean Air Act of 1970 in California." EPA Alumni Association. Video, Transcript (see p2,3). July 12, 2016.
  15. ^ "Press Conference Attorney General John Mitchell 12-18-1970" (PDF).
  16. ^ "Early Implementation of the Clean Air Act of 1970 in California." EPA Alumni Association. Video, Transcript. July 12, 2016.
  17. ^ a b Roseth, Bob (January 18, 2012). "New oral history of William Ruckelshaus, key figure in environmental policy, now online". University of Washington. Archived from the original on October 12, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  18. ^ a b Ruckelshaus, William D., "Only one other president has ever acted this desperate", Washington Post, August 6, 2018. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  19. ^ "Biography of William D. Ruckelshaus". EPA.gov. 2016. Archived from the original on December 4, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  20. ^ a b c d Biography of William D. Ruckelshaus: First Term, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2016).
  21. ^ Sullivan, Patricia (July 22, 2004). "Anne Gorsuch Burford, 62, Dies; Reagan EPA Director". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008.
  22. ^ a b Adragna, Anthony; Colman, Zack (November 27, 2019). "William Ruckelshaus, first EPA chief, dies at 87". Politico. Archived from the original on December 4, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  23. ^ a b "William D. Ruckelshaus: Oral History Interview", January 1993. Section, "Reflections on Being Administrator". Environmental Protection Agency. archive.epa.gov. Retrieved March 19, 2017. See also: "Reflections on Being Administrator". Archived from the original on October 2, 2006.
  24. ^ Governor Gregoire Appoints Leaders to Protect and Restore Puget Sound (press release), Governor Chris Gregoire, June 27, 2007.
  25. ^ An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century: Final Report of the United States Commission on Ocean Policy, United States Commission on Ocean Policy (2004).
  26. ^ "Joint Initiative leadership council members congratulate co-chair Bill Ruckelshaus on receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom". Joint Ocean Commission Initiative. November 24, 2015. Archived from the original on December 4, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  27. ^ "William Ruckelshaus". The William D. Ruckelshaus Center, Washington State University. Archived from the original on February 18, 2013. Retrieved 2012.
  28. ^ "The William D. Ruckelshaus Center - Washington State University".
  29. ^ World Resources Institute Biosketch of William D. Ruckelshaus. Accessed March 27, 2012.
  30. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 6, 2012. Retrieved 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ Chris McGann, Republican Ruckelshaus backs Obama: Watergate hero announces his support, Seattle Post-Intelligencer (September 3, 2008).
  32. ^ Wagner, John (August 9, 2016). "Two former Republican EPA administrators throw support to Clinton". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2018.
  33. ^ "Puget Sound Partnership". Psp.wa.gov. September 1, 2008. Retrieved 2010.
  34. ^ "Washington Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification". ecy.wa.gov. Archived from the original on July 29, 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  35. ^ "President Obama Names Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom". The White House. November 16, 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  36. ^ Phil Helsel - "Obama honoring Spielberg, Streisand and more with medal of freedom," NBC News, November 24, 2015. Retrieved November 25, 2015
  37. ^ Smith, Timothy R. (November 27, 2019). "William D. Ruckelshaus, who refused to join in Nixon's 'Saturday Night Massacre,' dies at 87". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2019.

External links

Indiana House of Representatives
Preceded by
Multi-member district
Member of the Indiana House of Representatives
from the 26th district

November 9, 1966 - November 6, 1968
Succeeded by
Multi-member district
Party political offices
Preceded by
Homer Capehart
Republican nominee for
U.S. Senator from Indiana (Class 3)

1968
Succeeded by
Richard Lugar
Legal offices
Preceded by
Edwin Weisl
United States Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division
January 20, 1969 - December 4, 1970
Succeeded by
Pat Gray
Preceded by
Joseph Sneed
United States Deputy Attorney General
July 9, 1973 - October 20, 1973
Succeeded by
Laurence Silberman
Political offices
New office Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
December 4, 1970 - April 30, 1973
Succeeded by
Russell Train
Preceded by
Anne Gorsuch
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
May 15, 1983 - February 7, 1985
Succeeded by
Lee Thomas
Government offices
Preceded by
Pat Gray
Acting
Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Acting

April 30, 1973 - July 9, 1973
Succeeded by
Clarence Kelley

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