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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - William D. Ruckelshaus to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom today [Updated]

Hoosier native, Indiana attorney, former Indiana House Speaker, candidate for U.S. Senate in 1968, head of the Civil Division of John Mitchell's Dept. of Justice under Nixon, first head of U.S. EPA, resigned rather than obey order to fire the special prosecutor in Nixon's infamous "Saturday Night Massacre" -- all this marks only the first part Ruckelshaus' career, his service in the state and federal government.

In a story today in the Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin writes:

William D. Ruckelshaus, another 2015 awardee, is being honored in part because he refused to bow to pressure from Nixon as deputy attorney general and fire the Watergate special prosecutor in what became known as the Saturday Night Massacre. But 42 years later, he is also being honored because the lifelong Republican helped launch the Environmental Protection Agency, headed the EPA twice and brokered critical bipartisan conservation agreements long after leaving public office.

“It’s a very important thing to remind the country, and remind the party, that they have a stake in” environmental protection, said William K. Reilly, one of five former EPA administrators who urged Obama to recognize Ruckelshaus with the medal. The Obama administration’s two Cabinet members with chief responsibility for the environment, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, also wrote letters on Ruckelshaus’s behalf.

Here is the bio in the White House news release:
William D. Ruckelshaus is a dedicated public servant who has worked tirelessly to protect public health and combat global challenges like climate change. As the first and fifth Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, under Presidents Nixon and Reagan, he not only shaped the guiding principles of the agency, but also worked diligently to bring the public into the decision making process. Among the EPA’s key early achievements under his leadership was a nationwide ban on the pesticide DDT and an agreement with the automobile industry to require catalytic converters, which significantly reduced automobile pollution. He also demonstrated his commitment to public service and integrity as Deputy Attorney General. During the Watergate crisis, Ruckelshaus and Attorney General Elliot Richardson chose to resign rather than fire the Watergate special prosecutor. Their principled stance was a pivotal moment for the Justice Department and galvanized public opinion for upholding the rule of law. He continues to advance his legacy of collaborative problem solving in his current role at the University of Washington and Washington State University.
[Updated] Here is William D. Ruckelshaus with President Obama, at the Medal of Freedom ceremony yesterday.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 24, 2015 01:05 PM
Posted to Indiana Government