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tv   Congress Nixon the Environmental Protection Agency  CSPAN  August 10, 2022 7:00am-8:01am EDT

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frequent viewers of our
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lunchtime lectures know that this is normally where i'd hand off to the president's ceo of the us capitol historical society jane campbell. she sends her best well wishes to mr. bostock and the team she's out of the country this week. so you guys are stuck with me for the afternoon. and so with that i'm now going to read this fantastic biography. i'm going to share with you why we are so thrilled to have bob bostock here with the us capitol historical society this afternoon. bob is a curator for exhibits at the nixon foundation. and in fact bob worked for former president nixon towards the tail end of his time towards the tail end of his life in the office of former president nixon during his more than three decades of public service. he spent considerable time working on environmental policy really making him a perfect fit for this sort of program. he worked for governor christine todd whitman both when she was governor of new jersey and when she became epa administrator during we first administration of president george w bush.
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he also served as director of strategic communications for the new jersey department of environmental protection and has some fantastic stories about the work that really did wonders to preserve and promote wildlife environmental protection in the state of new jersey the garden state fitting for earth day and topics of environmental concern. he worked for representatives dean gallo and rodney freelinghausen and senator jeff chiazza during his distinguished career. so he has congressional background as well. so with executive background with environmental background with congressional background, we really feel that you couldn't find a better speaker to talk about the environmental decade how president nixon worked with congress to advance legislation including creating the environmental protection agency in order to you know, meet the conservation goals and the environmental protection goals of a renewed interest in our nation. so with all of that bob thank you so much for being here with us. tell us about the environmental
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decade richard nixon and the birth of the epa. thank you, sam. thanks so much for that very generous introduction and thanks to the united states capitol historical society for this program and for giving me the opportunity to speak with the folks on this webinar. i should start by saying happy earth day to everyone. this is the 52nd earth day, which i find kind of hard to believe because i can remember the first earth day. i was in the sixth grade in radburn elementary school in fair lawn, new jersey, and i remember very distinctly our teacher. doing activities on earth day and then after school was over a bunch of us are moms had bought us some flats of flowers that we planted in the park near the school. so that was great fun. i think it would be remiss if i didn't write at the beginning mentioned senator gaylord nelson from wisconsin who of course was the father of earth day. he was a great environmentalist and really kicked the ball kicked off the ball to get
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rolling for that first earth day. and since i'm in new jersey, i should also mention that on earth day 1970 new jersey was the very only the third state in the country to establish a department strictly dedicated to the environment in that state. so that is something that we also hear in new jersey. remember very fondly from that first earth day. so i think as we look at the 1970s as a decade of tremendous progress in terms of federal laws and regulations to protect our environment to undo the damage that have been done in in the decades before it's probably helpful for us to kind of set the stage a little bit because in some senses this whole movement kind of started out of the blue because if you look back at the 1968 campaign when former vice president nixon was running against vice president humphrey and governor george wallace from alabama. the environment was really not
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on anybody's radar screen. the vice president humphrey during that campaign. he dedicated a park and a dam. mr. nixon gave one radio address on the environment which was actually titled natural resources. it was an interesting address but to paraphrase lincoln it would have it would have been little noted more long remembered and in fact it took me some research to dig it up, but what's interesting about that address is that it foreshadowed in a way a lot of the things that he wanted to accomplish for the environment during his presidency including he the address had 12. the radio address had 12 different points and it included finding a way to combine the federal government's very different and disparate and spread out activities that concern the environment into one agency and also talked about wildlife preservation water and land preservation. an air cleaning and all and all
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of those sorts of things. so it was kind of a foreshadowing if what was going to happen. but again because that campaign was so focused on on vietnam on crime on the economy civil rights and other issues. the environment really didn't get very much play. in fact in may of 1969 the white house did an internal poll to see what the interest was in protecting the environment one percent of those polled indicated that that was important issue to them. and that's in may of 1969, of course within less than a year that would change quite a bit. there were a couple of events that occurred very early in the nixon presidency that i think really raised this whole issue to a to a to much greater attention. the first was in santa california and oil. the pipe burst on january 28th the eighth day of the nixon presidency. it was spewing 1000 gallons of
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oil an hour before they were able to stop the leak 200,000 gallons of oil had leaked out dirtied 50 miles of beautiful, california coastline. and president nixon went out to see the site about two months later. didn't want to get in the way of all the cleanup that was going on right away, but it really struck a chord with him. he was a native californian. he loved the california beaches he grew up in orange county spent a lot of time on the beaches and seeing that i think was really quite a quite a wake-up call not just for him, but obviously for the entire country he said at the time that that spill and seeing the damage it created the natural environment to the marine mammals into the birds are really touched the conscience of the american people and then just not even six months later of course the cuyahoga river in cleveland combusted from an oil slick. the fire was out within 30 minutes at the time and when it
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happened it wasn't really covered very deeply but time magazine published his story and put a picture of a burning of the burning river on their cover of their magazine and that really people's consciousness about the environment as well. so it went from being almost a non-issue on most people's minds even though the need to clean up the environment was very apparent for a very long time. it was really not on the front of the american public's consciousness in terms of what the federal government's role should be doing but that all started to change in 1969 henry jackson, senator henry jackson from washington and congressman john dingle from the state of michigan had introduced the national environmental policy act, which is abbreviated his nepa. i should say when i started at the epa a little aside here those of us who were new to the agency. we're giving document that was called frequently used acronyms and the document was three pages.
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two columns printed on both sides of the paper and those are the frequently frequently used acronym. so i'll try and avoid acronyms at the point that i can. but that bill that a piece of legislation was really really important because it established two things. it established number one that going forward when any project was done the people doing the project had to perform an environmental assessment and do an environmental impact statement and it also it also established in the executive office of the president ceq, which is the council on environmental quality, which was designed to serve in much of the way that the president's economic council did to serve as an advisory body to the president and the white house staff on environmental issues the bill passed by a huge bipartisan vote. which really was the way all throughout the 19 all throughout
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the 1970s environmental legislation did pass by huge bipartisan votes and president nixon signed it on january 1st 1970. and then three weeks later when he gave his first state of the union address. he laid out a very ambitious planned for environmental protection almost 20% of the speech was dedicated to the environment, which is a lot of which is a real big hunk of speech. i remember when i was at the epa we would be asked around state of the union time. to send over the i think they put a word limit on a hundred words that the president might say in the state of the union speech about the environment and if we got a sentence and if we were we were thrilled to think that almost 20% of the speech was dedicated to the environment that state of the union speech was dedicated in the in to the environment. it's really something and it shows i think how the president and the white house staff were really starting to think about how we need to as he as he put
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it he said the great question of the 70s is whether we're going to clean up. the water and the air and the land that had been so poorly degradated and polluted over the over the decades before and then the following month. he sent a very extensive environmental message up to the congress which outlined a 37-point program including 23 major legislative proposals and 14 new actions. that could be taken either by administrative actions or executive order. and those there were five main points in that message to the congress in 1970 water pollution control air pollution and control solid waste management parklands and public recreation and then organizing for action and as we see as as the president's term continues those were those were the main those were the main things that the administration focused on in
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working with the congress to get those things done. i should mention also that president nixon came into office and during his entire presidency. the congress was in the control of the opposite party, so to get things done required an enormous amount of bipartisan cooperation particularly at a time when the country was divided on so many other issues. but then in july the president proposed the creation of the epa he wanted to take 44 different agencies that were spread across nine different departments all of which had environmental responsibilities and bring them into one agency. that internally particularly in the cabinet john whitaker who served as in the domestic policy council in the administration and kind of was the lead staff person for the environment tells the story about the cabinet meeting where environmental issues came up and of course, you know the secretary of the
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interior was proposing certain things to protect the environment the secretary of the commerce was saying, oh this will ruin business and it you know, it's that classic argument that has gone on really for decades about whether the cost of environmental protection is going to kill jobs and and hurt the economy. of course, we found over the years that the exact opposite is true protecting the environment is not a zero-sum game in fact it often leads to new technologies new businesses new jobs. both things can be accomplished at the same time, but this plan which was part of the mission of a group that the president pointed soon after he came to office the advisory council on executive organization, which was headed by roy. ash. it's often called the roy ash or the -- commission. they were the ones who among looking at all the different aspects of the executive branch devised this plan to move all of these all of these different
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functions into one agency and by the end of fog or the end of april rather in 1970. they had submitted their proposal to the president for his consideration and then on july 9th, he sent his proposal up to the congress. now, this was something he did not need a congressional approval for the way it worked is if in less congress within 60 days said you can't do this then they were able to go ahead and do it and that's exactly what they did and on december 2nd of 1970. the epa was stood up for the first time and bill ruckel's house was appointed as the first administrator of the environmental protection agency. and then we saw over the following several years quite a flurry of legislation most of which continues to continues to form the foundation of environmental law and regulations here in the united states the clean air act in 1970. president nixon had called for
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clean air legislation senator muskie had his version from maine had his version of clean air legislation. there was there was as you read kind of the history of how that all went on there was a lot of kind of one upsmanship between the white house and and senator musky's office and others on the hill trying to make sure that not only did they have a good bill, but that it was a bill that you know, always had a little bit more from this side or a little and then the other side but at a little bit more on on their side to kind of play this game of one upsmanship, which is not all that unusual on capitol hill, but what seems unusual now but was not unusual then during during the 70s. was that both senator muskie democrat from maine and president nixon republican. obviously, we're able to work it out and get something that they could both agree on neither one got a hundred percent of what they wanted. but they each enough that they
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could agree on it and move it forward. when they when it went to conference, the house bill was a little less stringent than the senate bill of senate pretty much prevailed. the bill passed again by a huge bipartisan majority. it's almost unfathomable. i don't think you get majorities that big on naming post offices and then went to went to president nixon's desk and he signed it on december 31st in 1970. so the year started off with nipper of signing on january 1st 1970 the national environmental policy act and then it concluded with the signing of the clean air act which has made such a difference over the years to the quality of air in the united states. then again in 1972 the president sent up another environmental message and it included again a number of initiatives that he wanted to see addressed and that many members in the congress
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were also working on as well. it included such issues as regulating toxic substances. hadn't really been done comprehensive improvement in pesticide authority again, that was another classic battle in the cabinet, you know, the interior department wanted more more concerns on that the secretary of agriculture is like, oh you're going to kill american agriculture. we need those pesticides to be able to raise crops to feed the country. he also included noise control the preservation of historic buildings the sighting of power plants to make sure those were done in environmental responsible way. ocean dumping regulations was something else she saw it and in water wanted to greatly expand what our treatment grant programs so that you could improve the or give give communities who had water treatment plants or many who didn't who were just dumping raw sewage into rivers and and and in some cases the ocean the
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money to build the water treatment to reduce those. dumping of that stuff right into the ocean. so that was kind of he set out as environmental agenda if you will for 1972. and again, we saw a lot of action in the congress and with president nixon the marine mammal protection act was was passed in 1972. it was introduced by representative edward garmass from maryland again a hugely important. bill and law to protect marine mammals it prohibited going far once it was passed it made it illegal to harass feed hunt capture or kill any marine mammal of hugely important for the recovery particularly of marine mammals along the coast lines that bill, you know, i've been talking about huge bipartisan majorities that passed the house in march of 1972 by 362 to 10.
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and it passed the senate in late july of that year in an 88 to two vote extraordinary and then president nixon signed the bill in october of 1972. the clean water act also was passed in 1972 that was introduced by senator muskie the white house supported it except for some of the money that was being put in there for some water grants that passed the senate 86 to nothing. it passed the house by a voice vote the conference committee when that was passed in october 30 366 to 11 in the house 74 nothing in the senate. the president vetoed the bill because he was concerned about the expenditures in there in terms of their budgetary impact, but he knew and everybody in the white house knew when a bill passes by that margin that it's going to the veto will be overridden and in fact the day that he vetoeded the senate overroad the veto in a 52 to 12 vote and the next day the house
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overrod the veto in a vote of 247 to 23 and among the people voting to override president. nixon. vita was representative gerald ford who of course within a year would become a little over a year will become nixon's vice president 1992. also the epa banned the use of ddt the pesticide ddt, which was having such a terrible effect on the environment. it's one of those chemicals that is persistent. it doesn't really go away it gets into the food chain. that makes it very difficult heard a lot of birds because when they would ingest fish or whatever the ddt would get into their systems had a terrible impact on bird eggs made the shells very very fragile and we were seeing a reduction in birds such as the american eagle because of the dttt, so in 1990s in 1972 rather administrator ruckel's house announced that he
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ddt was going to be banned and indeed it was banned and that had a huge impact. on the environment the following year 1973. we saw the passage of the endangered species act. that bill was introduced by senator harrison williams from new jersey on june 12th of 1973. it passed the senate less than two months later 92 to nothing it passed the house two months later. 390 to 12 the president signed it once the conference report was done at the end near the end of december. he signed it on december 28th 1973. this has been such a highly successful bill over the years 96. 96 of the protected species that have been listed over the years have been deed listed because they have come back far enough that they are no longer considered endangered among them are the american alligator the brown pelican the peregrine
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fowler falcon. and of course the american bold eagle and i think the story of the american bald eagles come back as extraordinary here in new jersey when i was at the new jersey department of environmental protection. i hosted a podcast where where i spoke with different people from around the agency to talk about what they did and what their mission was in the agency one of the people i spoke with had headed up all the way back in 1970 the program in new jersey to try and restore bald eagles to new jersey in 1970. there was one nesting pair of bald eagles in the entire state of, new jersey. and it was we were in danger of losing them because of the fragility of the eggs that they laid. so the new jersey deposites this program. where they found somebody who was really good at climbing trees. they located the that we know where the one nesting pair was this fellow climbed up 150 feet up to a eagles nest. can't that they had seen had the
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eagle had laid two eggs carrying two wooden eggs of the exact same size color weight as the eagles legs. of it took the wooden eggs, put them in the nest obviously when the eagle was not there took out the two real eggs carried them back down this tree 150 feet. and they found as the person described it to me a very light chicken who could incubate the eggs and in fact, the eggs are successfully hatched the same fellow who had climbed 150 feet up this tree went back to the tree with the two eaglets climbed the tree took the wooden eggs out of the nest put the two eaglets in and the the birds the bold eagles raise those two legally eaglets to maturity and that was the beginning of the comeback of bald eagles in new jersey one nesting pair in new jersey in 1970 now in the state of new jersey, there's more than 150 nesting pairs throughout the state, which is such an
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extraordinary comeback and there are stories like that all around the country, which i think reflects not only the federal government's important role in making sure that these species are protected but also the efforts of state and local governments and the county governments and tribes to do their part to help restore the envir. it from all the damage that had occurred previously. another program that president nixon initiated was called the legacy of parks. he looked over he was he was really big on trying to you know cut government bureaucracy. in fact, he observed that when he announced the start of the epa kind of went counter to his normal philosophy, you know creating a new department was not something i think he would have expected to do but he asked all of the the federal departments and agencies to look at the land that they owned to see if there was land that was no longer being used that could be turned over to state county
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local tribal governments to be converted into parks and that program was so successful that over the course of its life over the course during the nixon administration 80,000 acres of federal land was turned over to a state local county tribal governments to create parks 642 new parks were created around the country that now gave people particularly in areas where there are not necessarily a lot of parks for either recreation. they're active war passive recreation gave them an opportunity to go out and enjoy the beautiful country that we have in an environment that was safe and an accessible to them a highly successful program. as we go on in 1974 and and by this time mr. nixon has left office the safe water safe drinking water act in 1974 again
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passed with huge overwhelming majorities president ford signed that into law in 1974. the toxic substances control act in 1976 again, a huge bipartisan majorities signed by president ford the rickra as the as it's called resource conservation and recovery act. also huge bipartisan majorities boards on that in 1976 as well. and then of course president carter the one of the most significant pieces of environmental legislation passed during that whole period of the 70s was the super fund law which which was introduced by new jersey representative jim floria who went on to become governor of new jersey some years later again that passed the house and the senate by huge majorities president carter signed it in december of 1980. that law has had such a great impact on cleaning up polluted sites where the responsible parties had abandoned the sites
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and could not be found federal money has gone into cleaning these sites new jersey has the unhappy distinction of being the state with the most super fun sites in the country as a result of our industrial legacy, but enormous progress has been made in cleaning up those sites and in many cases being able to them into beneficial use so as we look back at the 70s and all of the legislation and the laws and the regulation that were passed by by the congress in the white house working together both president, nixon and president ford were working with majorities in both houses of the opposite party president carter his he was working with the congress of the same party but in any but in every case, there was just enormous bipartisan support for environmental action, which i think reflects a couple of things several things. the first was the demand by the public for action, which was really kicked off by earth day 20 million people around the
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country participated in earth day activities. that's like one out of every 10 in americans population in the united states at the time was about 200 million one out of 10 people participated in an earth day activity. another thing is i think it's important to note that. both the president and the congress they were seeking solutions to the problem and not just seeking issues that they could use to run on for any length of time and kind of beat each other up. you know, this one's not doing enough. that one's not doing enough. they wanted solutions. they weren't looking to perpetuate issues. and i think that was hugely important to the success of the 70s particularly at a time in the country was divided over so many other things just because one party disagree with the president on important and important issue like say vietnam didn't mean they were going to vote against every single thing that that president wanted to do. in fact, they work together in a very very strong way and that i think is is so important these bills when they were sent to the president.
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both sides both the republicans and the democrats were willing to reach across the aisle work together and find a solution that both sides could accept and and vote for too often. that is not always the case, but it was certainly the case on environmental issues during the entire period of the 1970s and i think also the fact that you know compromised was not a dirty word and that's part of what goes across being able to work across the aisle. you're not going to get a hundred percent of what you want. maybe you'll get 80 or 75, but you'll get some of what you want and it's better to have some of what you want than have nothing and you know during that entire period on environmental issues compromise is not a dirty word, and i think also the last thing and and this may have something to do with why the decades subsequent to the 1970s have not been as productive in terms of finding solutions to some of our environmental problems. you know, i have to say that
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many of these early laws were going after some of the low hanging fruit that needed to be addressed, you know, smoke stacks viewing stuff into the air you could control that factories dumping raw sewage and raw industrial. into into lakes and are not lakes but into rivers and into the ocean you could stop that a lot of the car the pollution generated by automobiles huge which led to emissions standards being put in place and getting rid of letting gasoline ocean dumping that is something that you can end without too much trouble a lot of the environmental problems we face today the solutions are not as as easy and straightforward as that and that is probably also a factor that has to do with the fact that we're not seeing as we haven't seen as productive and error as the 1970s and environmental protection. and i just want to end before i take your questions. i'm talking a little bit about richard nixon in the environment
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if you read a lot about what happened during the next administration of many authors seem to find it kind of extraordinary that nixon did this and and they say, oh he just did it for politics or you know, he only did it because people wanted it. well, i kind of hope that our leaders do things because people wanted it but nixon did have a record on the environment that went all the way back to 1962 when he ran for governor of california during that campaign. he proposed unsuccessful campaign. he proposed measures to reduce air pollution to reduce vehicle emissions and to safeguard water quality by protecting watersheds a lot of these ideas were headed their time eight ten years time, so it wasn't something new and then also you know that you heard people say, oh is heart wasn't really any really care about it that much, you know, my answer to that is i think we be judging our presence and our congresses kind of on what they do, you know, maybe he was very focused on ending the war in
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vietnam on other issues that were at the top of his plate. did he spend as much time focusing about environmental issues as he did on things like vietnam opening to china the daytime with the soviet union desegregating southern schools all of those other things that were accomplished during his administration, but but nevertheless he had a staff. that was very passionate about these things starting with and this surprises people john enrolleckman, who was his domestic policy advisor. he had been a land use attorney in seattle knew a lot of and had that kind of pacific northwest ethos about the environment john whitaker who was the lead staffer on the white house domestic policy staff on the environment and arden environmentalist russell train who nixon appointed to head up ceq and then who later went on to serve as the head of the epa again in arden by environmentalist, and of course bill ruckel's house who went into the epa and took the
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mission very seriously. in fact when he announced the banning of ddt in 1972, he hadn't really cleared it with the white house and when the white house learned they were like, oh, you know bills kind of going off the reservation, but they made no effort to roll that back because rockwell house was doing what needed to be done at that time and he had the authority to do it. so i think that one tries to evaluate president nixon's environmental record. i like to look at a survey that was done among 12 of the major environmental groups here in the country 10 years ago and president nixon was named the second greenest president and he was second only to teddy roosevelt the great conservation as president and president nixon admired teddy roosevelt so much that i don't think he would have winded too much the fact that he came in second to teddy roosevelt and interestingly number third on the list with jimmy carter. so those two presidents the number two number three on that list were both part of that
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incredibly productive period of environmental protection during the day the decade of the 70s. so i i think as we look back at that time now and look back on earth day now more than half the century ago. i think we can all owe a debt of thanks to the congress to the members of congress who work together in such a collegial bipartisan way to get this legislation passed as well as the president nixon who's leadership and who's enacting of all these bills signing of all these bills has made a huge difference in the quality of our environment over the past 50 years, and i hope that as people look at that decade. they see it as as an example of how on on issues that you know, maybe you don't agree on everything you still get something done. so with that i'm happy to take any questions, but i think sam first we wanted to go through photos. yes, so i was gonna say, you know, and thank you for that. fantastic presentation bob. this is really been you know fascinating and i have questions.
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i'm sure members of our audience have questions too that they're excited to pose, but i wanted to take a minute while we're all still here, you know, we mentioned at the top that you're a curator for exhibits at the nixon foundation, and i know that you and i have discussed you curated and exhibit on president nixon and the environmental decade and so we thought it would be interesting for everyone here on on today's webinar if we took a quick spin through some fun photos some fun images from that exhibit you curated you can give us a little extra a little extra context or share what you might you know, how you would talk about this as a museum curator as a publicist orient what let me say about the exhibit before we start talking about the pictures the first policy or outdoor exhibit in the entire presidential library system the entire course we have the benefit of being the nixon library has the benefit of being located in orange county, california, but of course, we know it never rains the southern california so you can have an
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outdoor exhibit the people can see 12 months of the year, but it's a great exhibit because it has you know, there are sculptures of some of the creatures that have been or the species that have been brought back from extinction. it has this wonderful brass in high relief of many of the marine mammals that have been preserved because of the marine mammal protection act we have in in concrete. footprints of different animals that have been affected by president nixon's activities that children particularly when the school groups when they go they're given a list, you know find these find these footprints, you know and identify them so it's a wonderful interactive visit outdoors and on the beautiful grounds of the nixon library. and as i say, it's the only completely outdoor policy oriented exhibit in the entire entire national archives presidential library system, i will say the day we were supposed to open it. there were wildfires about 30
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miles away from yorba linda. the sky was brown and it was raining ash and an air quality was really bad. so we we canceled the opening not only because of the air quality of you but also because i think it would have been kind of horribly ironic to be talking about everything president nixon did on behalf of the environment under brown skies with ash raining down from the sky so that kind of worked out. all right, but it's a great exhibit. anybody who's in ever in southern, california and orange county. be sure to go see it. it's a lot of fun. but let's start with this picture of president nixon of course is the only president still the only president who was a native of california kind of hard to believe given how big california is but here he and mrs. nixon are planting a sequoia tree on the south grounds of the white house. he he actually liked doing tree planting seeing mrs. nixon like doing free plantings and as california as they wanted to put this sequoia in there. i don't believe it had it thrived. i'm not sure washington was
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exactly the place for this tree to thrive, but it did grow for a number of years and then as far as i know it's not still present on the white house grounds, but it certainly, you know presidents have been planting trees on the white house grounds forever many of them are still there going all the way back to andrew jackson's magnolias that flank the south portico just as a kind of way to promote the place where they come from and to promote the the beauty of the brands of the white house. so there is planning a tree wonderful. so click on the thing and now so yeah, so here. here we go. another tree related photo here. yes. now this is the president and mrs. nixon at their home in san clemente, california, which during this presidency was known as the western white house and this is on the grounds of their home. i have had i've had the great pleasure of actually going to that home when the nixon sold at a very good friend of theirs bought the home and still owns
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it and occasionally. we'll open it up for events. but also, 32 years ago when i was working on the original nixon library and was out there for some visits the owner gavin herbert and his wife dinetta invited me to come see it. it's just a spectacular place on a high bluff overlooking the pacific ocean. so this is this these pictures were taking i think in february, so the weather was a little bit in clement, but they got a lot of fun pictures there looking they're looking out towards the ocean on a bench on the grounds of their home in san clemente, which is just such a beautiful spot. i said when when i went there my wife and i went there way back in 1990. i said man if i lived here, i would never leave it would it was just spectacular. it's gorgeous. absolutely and it's it's easy to see how someone with that kind of, you know, beautiful vista can fall in love with or really, you know, take environmental issues to heart. absolutely and he actually
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opened the the beach down. there is a great surfing beach which had been closed, you know, because of security concerns closed whether he was there or not. he had them open it so that surfers could enjoy it when he wasn't there secret service did not want to open when he was in residence there, but when he was not it was open for surfing it's great spot nice and surfing legacy as well. yes speaking of aquatic activities. yeah, this is president. nixon has a daughter julie nixon eisenhower on a boat. they're kind of on vacation. so i recall this is taken up in maine. the love the water they had a house down in florida on the water in key biscayne when he retired to new jersey after he left california, he would frequently drive down to the jersey shore to go for a swim. you know, it fascinating he gave up his secret service protection in the early 1980s and just had
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like one former secret service agent who was his driver so he basically had very little if any security and despite how controversial he was. he never had an unpleasant encounter with anybody and all the time he spent out, you know, whether swimming in the beach or whatever, but this is a great this is the the nixon's really love love being on the water. he used the presidential yacht which he named sequoia again after the magnificent trees in california more than any other president during the whole time that the that they had presidential yachts because they really like being on the water. absolutely. yeah. okay. do you think his and for you know is his enjoyment of being out on the water. do you think that might have shaped as someone who knew him? do you think that might have shaped his interest in some of the sort of water specific or the marine mammal perhaps, you know policy that the big accomplishments in that field. i think it absolutely did. he you know, as i said he grew
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up in southern california and he and mrs. nixon particularly when they were dating and then when they were first married would they lived in whittier? in orange county which is, you know, not on the beach, but would often with friends go down to the beach with picnics and just spend the day on the beach and this would have been in the you know, the early 1940s and of course as a boy in the 30s and the 20s, so he he loved the beach. he loved he loved the ocean. he really did and i think there's no doubt that his appreciation for that. definitely drove a lot of his concern about the environment and about water quality. absolutely, you talked about the tree plantings here. we have another one. there's another tree planting with the young man. both of them dressed up very nicely. i must say i don't recall exactly where this is, but again presidents do lots of tree plantings, and it's always a great opportunity. i think for any president to to
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show in a very tangible way in a way and also in a way that we'll be remembered that they planted a tree when i worked for governor whitman when she was governor here in new jersey one of the earth days. i'm not sure how we arranged this, but she actually came to the elementary school that my son was in in kindergarten. what a marvelous coincidence of scheduling, but she came and planted new jersey's state tree the red oak in front of his school and it's still there, you know, it was just a little not maybe six feet tall at the time now. it's a big spreading beautiful oak. so tree planting is is great for presidents and governors and others to not only show their concern for the environment but something that you know they say, you know planting a tree shows faith in the future and also just a way to commemorate a particular event. absolutely, how wonderful so jumping back to the nixon's in the beach and perhaps some
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interesting sartorial choices, but but doing the beat nonetheless. yes. well folks will notice that they've been if they're looking very closely. this photo was taken at the same time as the photo of them sitting on the bench. i'm kind of a gray overcast day. now i want to point out that getting from his house down to the beach. it's like 150 feet along a pebbled path. which you would not want to walk down in your bare feet, it would be most uncomfortable. and there was nothing down there for him to change out of his shoes, you know, so i know he gets a lot of ribbing, you know go nixon would he's the only guy who walk on a beach, you know in his shoes, but it was the weather it was it was the the walk down this kind of pebbled path down to the beach from the home. which is why he misses nixon have your shoes now people say he has wing tips on he does not have wingtips on their casual shoes. this is nixon has sneakers on
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i've seen plenty of pictures of them at the beach where he's not wearing shoes. you know, he but for some reason, you know, for some reason this one i just stick some people's mind they like to say, oh, you know, like where shoes on the beach. in fact, he didn't but given given the weather and given the long walk down this pebbled path. i would have worn shoes to get down there as well. absolutely, and if it makes it if it makes it any better, i do have distinct memories of a photo of truman on the beach wearing wingtips. so and i think jfk on the beach wearing loafers, so there we go. so it's there's a grand tradition it's a grand tradition for sure speaking of of grand traditions and speaking of you know, legacies of multiple presidents. here. we have this great image. could you tell us a little bit about what's going on here? yeah. this is great because it speaks i think to the bipartisan nature of environmental policy making and interest in in the 1970s. this is president dedicating a
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grove in of sequoias in northern california two lady bird johnson so you can see in this picture on either side of the plaque that is there. you have president and mrs. johnson and then on the other side president and mrs. nixon. and this was to recognize the incredible work that mrs. johnson did while she was in the white house for beautification of america. she was so she was so in mrs. jones was so instrumental in not only planting flowers all over washington dc and other places, but also leading efforts to get billboards off of highways, you know, and and removing other unsightly things along the the nation's roads and in their parks and and that was a great passion of hers. there are so many photographs i've seen of her particularly in texas. it's bluebonnet season now, i guess in, texas pictures of her with the bluebonnets and you
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know, just just kind of loving flowers and really wanting to beautify nature and president nixon. wanted to recognize mrs. johnson for that the nixon's in the johnsons went way back. um, they were both in washington lbj got there a little earlier than mr. nixon did when he was the first elected to the house in 1946. but you know when nixon was senate was vice president united states and therefore senate president, you know presiding officer of the senate lbj was the majority leader. and you know, they would work together on legislation. in fact, one of the one of the seminal pieces of the first in fact the first civil rights. legislation passes reconstruction was passed during the eisenhower administration and you know nixon worked very closely with johnson in wrestling up the votes for that. um, just this is off the environmental subject, but martin luther king, then who nixon had met in ghana when
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ghana became independent sent nixon a letter afterwards saying, you know, we couldn't have been done without your effort. but again, that's just another example of how you know both sides of the aisle can work together to get things done. and this i think is such a great example of one president honoring the work of one of his predecessors different party often on different sides of the issues, but recognizing in what i think is a great tradition which we could well, i won't say we could use more of them. maybe i should say that but showing that in the end. you know the people who go to washington and serve in government at every level, you know, their main purposes is to do right by the people who send them there and i think this is a great example of that. absolutely. absolutely. i think here's one more before we move into audience questions just about legacies. yeah, i mentioned the legacy of parks program. this is a site in new york and
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there you see president nixon's daughter julie nixon eisenhower and governor nelson rockefeller of new york. dedicating a 2100 acre public park that had been previously owned by the federal government turned over to the state of new york as a great park for people to use and it's one of you know those 2100 acres of part of the 80,000 acres that were turned out from turn from from the federal government to state county local and tribal governments during the nixon administration. that's just one of the several hundred parks that several hundred parks that were created as a result of that program. a remarkable legacy. so as we pull out of the image sharing here, we're going to start bringing some questions from the audience and we'll leave with one an interesting approach to thinking about the frequent, you know collaborator
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of sorts certainly a you know, a parallel track if you will senator muskie one of our audience members asks to what extent did president nixon see senator muskie as as a leading contender in the 1972 election in the democratic field. and do you think that might have had any in you know, do you think that consideration might have played into how he approached working with senator. muskie. there's no doubt that president nixon and pretty much everybody saw senator musky as a leading contender for the democratic nomination in 1972 as folks will recall the election in 1968 was razor thin not so much in the popular vote, but definitely rather not so much in the electoral vote, but definitely in the popular vote very very close and muskie had although we was from a state with not a heck of a lot of electoral votes comported himself very well during that campaign and i think became known on the national
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scene in a way that he had not become known on the national scene prior to his being selected by vice president humphrey as his running mate 1968. so i suspect that, you know, i mean politics is it's not foreign to washington dc and you know, i think that, you know, probably part of the calculation and only part of it was you know, we don't want folks to get ahead of us on issues that people are increasingly concerned about but to both nixon and musky's credit. i think they were able to come together, you know must be could have with the democrats control. the congress said, you know, we're not we're gonna move stuff that nixon's gonna veto and that'll give us an issue in 1972 and you know and and rather than kind of play politics to that level, you know to senator musky's credit. he said let's get something done. it's more important than we get something done that i have then i have an issue to run on in
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1972. so i think the cooperation you saw between the white house and the congress particularly on the issues that senator muskie was advancing is kind of how politics should work sure. you find the common ground you get something done everybody benefits. absolutely, it does. i do want to ask though. we talked about the you know the veto and i'm fascinated. i i you know that when you shared about the clean water act and and the veto and the override and you know in the wide margins including future vice president future president ford, you know, i i would imagine i've never been personally acquainted with any presidents of the united states, but i would imagine that a veto override sticks with you a little bit it has you know as you it's it's just it can be a strong action. do you know if that particular episode the clean water act and
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the override did that stick with president nixon? do you know having spent time with them? you know he, you know, he served in the house. he served in the sanity. he was the vice president so he had a lot of eight years of knowing how capital hill works. he was he was on the hill from 47 to 61 continuously house senate vice president you know on that one, it could have been no surprise to him that it was going to be veto because it had passed by such huge margins. he was really concerned from a budgetary standpoint about the money that was in there for sewage treatment grants. and in fact, although the bill passed he then impounded some of the money congress responded by removing president's ability to impound appropriated funds and he was not the first president to impound interestingly when when ford became president president ford took office again, another water bill was passed with huge students grants, which ford opposed. so now it's it's again, it's one of those things where you know,
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the world looks different from the white house than it does from the hill. and president who's concerned about budget concerns, you know because money. you're spending it here. you can't necessarily spending it there priority may differ, but you know, i don't think that one stuck with him too. badly. he knew was going to be overridden and you know, he supported probably 90 nine percent of the bill except for that one. why not? so now that didn't there were others i think been struck in his stuck in his prom more more than that sure certainly certainly. well, you know, we've got this really fantastic audience real history lovers here and one of our audience members has asked if there's a way that they as members of the public can get access to that early speech you mentioned that you had to root around and and dig for laying out some of president nixon's environmental interest. is that something they can go to the to the library or to the library, but it's also it's also online now i'm having a i can't
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remember the name of the university. but if you if you google nixon 1968 radio address natural resources, it'll come right up because i have it in a book. while his radio speeches from the campaign, but before i went to dig out my book, i looked online and it was right there. i didn't even have to go to the book. so yes, it's readily available online and in fact all of the public papers of the president's certainly the modern ones. up until recently. i don't think i don't think the most recent ones have gotten online, but it's a great resource to be able to look at the volumes of the public papers of the president and these happen to be on there as well because gave those speeches during the campaign. so yeah, just just google, you know, nixon radio address natural resources 1968. it'll pop right up. marvelous marvelous. well, i think to bring it home with sort of one concluding question, you know, the the
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environmental decade there was this explosion that you've so eloquently and and thoroughly laid out for us. it's incredible pieces of you know, truly world-changing legislation, you know in a positive way, you know by the time we get into the 80s and 90s that seems to have dropped off there wasn't the same pace of environmental legislation and you know, we're in a point. we're in we're in a moment now where it seems like there's a growing return to this public interest and demand for public action. you know, i i certainly as a as a native washingtonian, you know, we seem to see it more and more this this demand this public demand, you know, do you think we're starting to see the beginnings of perhaps a new environmental decade or at least something approaching another environmental decade? well, i hope so. i you know, i think what it's going to take is. even more kind of grassroots demand for these sorts of things. there's no doubt that that first earth day with 20 million participants, you know, really
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gave a big jump start. to the app to things that were already percolating right on the hill and in the white house because jump start to that. but you know, there's still if you look at polls where people name their most important issue. the environment doesn't pull nearly as high as one would expect, you know, because there are other issues particularly pocketbook issues and issues of war and peace that will tend to tend to pull higher but you know, those pocketbook issues were there throughout the united the 1970s, you know vietnam who was incredibly divisive inflation after 1973, you know became a huge problem with the oil crisis and that just kind of move things along. um, so i think what it's going to take is not only more grassroots demand for these things. but also kind of a change in the way the folks in dc approach them one of the things that i think has been unfortunate due
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to what i see is basically gridlock over environmental issues for at least almost 30 years. is that the states are now stepping into and and doing what the federal government's not doing? um, it's not the most efficient way to address environmental challenges because you know, you can have a law on one state that is different in the next state and different from another state. and that's where it really makes it difficult. i think for particularly companies and that have locations in more than one state the kind of figure out what they're supposed to do and it it kind of detracts from the kind of progress you could make if you had national standards and and national law so, you know, i hope that i hope that as as we look at the environmental challenges that still exist non-point source pollution, which is you know, basically runoff, which is really hard to control interestingly in that radio speech or maybe was in one of the other documents. nixon talks about the the water
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problem caused by agriculture. not just the fertilizers which some measure of control but also animal waste still something that's being wrestled over and then of course there's you know, the climate climate change what we're going to do about that. so i think i think to the extent that our public officials can do better job of looking more for solutions than issues. it's a big problem. you know, it's great to be able to run and say the other person didn't do this, you know, and and kind of keep that as an issue. let's call, you know, there are plenty of things you can run on folks, you know, let's start running on solutions saying, you know, we solve this problem we get it together and never gonna look at the next thing. i think people would react to that very positively so we'll see i'm hopeful cautiously hopeful. well, we'll keep our fingers crossed and will remain hopeful with you bob boss stock. this has been an absolute pleasure. thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience
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