Ruckelshaus was a former Republican legislator from Indiana who had lost a Senate contest when Nixon tapped him to lead his environmental efforts. He preceded Russell Train as EPA chief (the political influential who gave muscle to Train’s policy leadership) and served there only a couple of years. But Ruckelshaus’ commitment to the environment wasn’t a flighty thing.
His most famous action was banning the chemical DDT, which had been found to have devastating effects on wildlife. Best known today for his principled refusal in 1974 as a Justice Department official to follow Nixon’s order that he fire the Watergate prosecutor, Ruckelshaus continues to be involved in environmental causes. He has served on various national and international commissions, and was most recently appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.
What does Ruckelshaus think about his party’s current posture on environmental protection? A clue might be found from the 2008 presidential campaign trail: He endorsed Barack Obama.