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How Republicans Became the Anti-Environmental Party

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The environmental historian Chris Sellers explores this issue for Earth Day. In the 1950s, many Republicans were among the founding environmentalists in Congress. And of course, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Congress was passing groundbreaking environmental laws by nearly unanimous votes (which is why it drives me crazy when Richard Nixon gets called a “liberal” for signing these laws). To say the least, things changed.

One strand of coalition-building emerged in the 1970s in the western states, where a so-called Sagebrush rebellion erupted among ranchers, miners, and other larger property owners upset over new environmental restrictions. Aspiring Republican politicians rode these issues into legislative takeovers in states like Colorado in 1976, by drawing support not just from rural but also from suburban voters.

Among the victors was a 34-old Republican lawyer named Anne Gorsuch representing Jefferson County, on Denver’s edge, who railed against regional planning as well as federal regulatory “overreach.” When reelected, Gorsuch attracted sufficient attention for former California governor Reagan to bring her in as advisor to his own conservative campaign for the presidency.

The other strand of early anti-environmentalism ran through the South, where traditional Democratic dominance was in flux. Democrats like then-Georgia governor Jimmy Carter embraced environmental causes. Some Republicans did as well. When college professor Newt Gingrich ran for Congress starting in 1972 in a West Georgia district extending into Atlanta’s suburbs, it made sense that he did so both as a Republican and an environmentalist.

But Gingrich kept losing until he noticed that rural lifelong Democrats rejecting his candidacy turned out repeatedly for a John Bircher Democrat running in a neighboring district who publicly questioned the constitutionality of both the EPA and national parks. Taking the cue, Gingrich won his first of many Congressional races in 1978 by dialing down his environmental rhetoric and cozying up to local industries that had run afoul of the new agencies and laws.

Riding these political tides to the White House, the early Reagan administration undertook a frontal assault on environmental agencies and regulation much like what we are now seeing. Gorsuch stepped into the EPA’s helm, hatching plans to cut its budget and personnel by half. Her Colorado colleague over at the Interior Department, James Watt, sought a similar devolution of control over federal lands; OSHA and FDA were also targeted.

But for these Republican anti-environmentalists, the power of the Presidency was not enough. A Democratic Congress, still bolstered by the party’s Southern bloc, stood in the way. Democratic committee chairs geared up for Congressional hearings that spotlighted the ensuing consequences and corruption at agencies under fire. The hue and cry then raised, and courtroom battles the Administration then lost, turned out to be much more than it had bargained for. Within two years, Gorsuch and Watt had resigned and restoration of federal environmental agencies was underway. A seminal Supreme Court decision in 1984, Chevron, Inc. vs NRDC, required judicial deference to environmental and other agencies’ interpretation of statutes, confirming their authority to regulate.

As moderate Republicans took over, federal environmental budgets and operations were restored, but the grounds were also being laid for a next war on the environmental state. The Heritage Foundation, established in the 1970s, enjoyed a heyday as an idea factory for tugging the administration to the right, and new think tanks established in the mid-1980s like the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy came to nourish a special hostility toward the climate issue. In the South, as well, enterprising Republicans such as Gingrich successfully moved to convert white Democratic voters to their party.

Newt and Neil “My first act as Supreme Court justice is killing a disabled black man” Gorsuch’s mom. What a gallery of rogues.

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  • William Berry

    Just to start off the comments on my usual cheerful note, I’ll just leave this here:

    http://crookedtimber.org/2017/04/22/individual-emission-budgets-footprints/

  • Colin Day

    Anne Gorsuch was also the mother of Neil Gorsuch. The fun never ends.

    Neil Gorsuch

  • ArchTeryx

    It’s not at all hard to understand. It happened at the same time the Republican party decided on two overriding governing philosophies: Cleek’s Law and shoveling money to the rich.

    • efgoldman

      It happened at the same time the Republican party decided on two overriding governing philosophies: Cleek’s Law and shoveling money to the rich.

      And within that, big businesses became instantly virtuous – the bigger and more monopolistic, the more virtue.
      Teddy Roosevelt and Bob LaFollette must be horribly tired from constantly spinning in their graves all these years.

      • DAS

        The Republicans actually are just really into alternative energy: they plan to hook generators up to all those spinning dead people.

      • los

        Teddy Roosevelt and Bob LaFollette must be horribly tired from constantly spinning in their graves

        “the ultimate posthumous fitness workout!”

        … or they just went Democrat during the Watergate years, which seems easier.

  • efgoldman

    The last Republiklown I voted for, Frank Sargent for MA governor in 1972, was a great environmentalist.
    He put the kibosh on several road projects that would have destroyed whole towns in Greater Boston, including the I-95 extension into the city, which became the Orange Line right of way, replacing the elevated from Forest Hills to Mass Ave

  • Taylor

    I feel like any discussion of anti-environmentalism during the Reagan administration should note who the villain was in Ghostbusters.

    The EPA.

    ETA Link added.

    • Really? Man, I need to go back and watch this. I wonder if anyone has written an essay about that.

      • ArchTeryx

        Walter Peck, the knob that turned off the containment force field and let all the ghosts out, was indeed EPA, and loudly stated so many times. He was a tool. That he was a tool from the government was no coincidence.

      • Ramon A. Clef

        ISTR that some Salon columnist whose name escapes me wrote about it around a decade ago.

        • Ramon A. Clef

          I remembered. It was David Sirota, and I was thinking of his 2011 book, Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now.

    • ArchTeryx

      Yep. EPA rep. Mind, Peck wasn’t exactly the most sympathetic of characters…but hating on government was all the rage those days.

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      Zuul worked for the EPA?

      • Davis X. Machina

        There is no Pruitt, there is only Zuul.

    • PunditusMaximus

      It’s also worthy of note that the only way to watch that movie now is as a madcap farce; none of the characters are particularly likeable. Maybe it just hasn’t aged well.

      • I find this true of basically every 80s comedy. Caddyshack is especially bad and the love people have for it is completely mystifying.

        • Ramon A. Clef

          Raising Arizona still slays me.

          I wonder if Real Genius holds up.

          • postmodulator

            I’ve been thinking about that lately just because Real Genius was, at the time, a surprisingly accurate depiction of nerd/hacker culture.

          • PunditusMaximus

            I rewatched it recently. A couple of the jokes fall flat, and the Bechdel Test failure feels gratuitous, but yeah, it’s still funny as such.

            Due for a remix, actually.

        • keta

          Now that’s funny.

        • postmodulator

          I find this true of basically every 80s comedy.

          I consider the first American Pie movie a turning point for mainstream American movies. Suddenly comedies were made about basically decent human beings.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            hey, Elwood Blues was a good guy- he remembered the old guy’s cheese whiz and he apologized to Carrie Fisher on Jake’s behalf. I will admit he was more a supporting player in a sense

          • Origami Isopod

            Sure, if you ignore that

            the girls are all painted in terms of their sex appeal and contribution to the pact the four leads have going to lose their virginities. I doubt any of us were watching American Pie for its feminist themes and strong female characters, but, come on. It’s still pretty bad.

      • keta

        Let me guess: you considered Airplane a searing exposé on the lack of professionalism in the commercial aviation industry.

      • Brett

        I wouldn’t go that far. The one character who has become cringe-worthy to watch in that movie is Bill Murray’s Venkman – the rest are still pretty funny and solid.

        • PunditusMaximus

          To me, the blowjob scene kills Ray’s funny, and the idea of some bunch of randos running a nuclear reactor in a NYC basement is sub-hilarious in this day and age. And the way Winston’s character obviously used to be an actual character in an earlier script but now is kind of an appendage is . . . ew.

    • Yes–this is something that has always made me feel uncomfortable laughing at those parts of ghostbusters.

    • Joe_JP

      It’s a tad misleading to say the EPA was “the” villain.

      The government agent there was played by a familiar face that played multiple jerks. Anyway, there surely are various movies where the characters are working with some unauthorized equipment or in some other fashion violate the rules and the audience are encouraged to boo and hiss at how unfair it all is.

      Even in Back to the Future, the kindly cop asks & he is assured that it is a scientific experiment. IRL, some unauthorized electricity experiment involving a clock tower would be shut down, even if it means a major threat to the time/space continuum.

      Lovable nuts in real life can be dangerous. Regulations are in place. Another thing that comes to mind is that movie where some average guy wants to be an astronaut and the government wants to stop him. Again, doubt this is unique.

      • Origami Isopod

        Anyway, there surely are various movies where the characters are working with some unauthorized equipment or in some other fashion violate the rules and the audience are encouraged to boo and hiss at how unfair it all is.

        I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make. Our culture idolizes rule-breaking individualists, at least when they’re white men, and deprecates the role of government. Unless the government official is a cop, or a “hang ’em high” judge.

  • delazeur

    The hue and cry then raised, and courtroom battles the Administration then lost, turned out to be much more than it had bargained for. Within two years, Gorsuch and Watt had resigned and restoration of federal environmental agencies was underway. A seminal Supreme Court decision in 1984, Chevron, Inc. vs NRDC, required judicial deference to environmental and other agencies’ interpretation of statutes, confirming their authority to regulate.

    Chevron deference goes both ways, but the original case was not the repudiation of anti-environmentalism implied here. The regulation that SCOTUS upheld was one promulgated by Gorsuch’s EPA and was extremely friendly to industry. “Authority to regulate,” in this case, then means “authority to issue the weakest possible regulation that is still within the bounds of the statutory text.”

  • DAS

    My dad used to be a conservative Republican. Part of being conservative in those days was being an environmentalist.

    • guthrie

      “Connervatives” haven’t been into conserving anything, whether the environemnt, peoples lives, etc, since the 1980’s and probably before.

      • DAS

        “Connervatives”? I like that and will certainly steal it!

        Anyway, as I believe I’ve mentioned before my dad became a RINO in 1980 (if not before … for all I know, he may have voted for McGovern in 1972) when the party nominated Reagan.

        There is a lot of ink spilled by Republicans who were Democrats but “I didn’t leave the Democratic party, the Democratic party left me”. The Republican party left many people when they became the party of Reagan (and even more when they became the party of GW Bush, and even more now that they are nihilists), but the even the “liberal” media doesn’t give the same space to former Republicans as it did to former Democrats.

        • Derelict

          The breed I run into the most these days is the loud-n-proud independent voter who somehow, through magic and/or the force of dark matter, ends up voting Republican every time.

          This includes the old geezer who hobbles into the airport lobby every Sunday morning to declaim on the virtues of Trump. He’s absolutely NOT a Republican. He’s an independent, damnit! He just votes Republican. And espouses all their principles, and supports all their policies, and thinks Democrats are traitors, and liberals should probably be deported. But he’s not a Republican.

          • The white masculine fantasy that the speaker is an independent/rebel reacting against a dominant central government is really almost a religion, certainly its a culturally valued ideology.

            • Woodrowfan

              the “Independents” I run into seem to fall into that or a couple other groups.
              1. the Republican who like to think he’s a rebel (as you pointed out)
              2. The guy who is still too far right for the republicans, but votes for them anyway
              3. the person who is so clueless they have no idea what either party supports. (My one sister-in-law)
              4. the leftwing rebel, who still spends 90% of their time bitching about Democrats even though they agree of 90% of the issues, while excusing the republicans with whom the only thing they agree is they both hate Democrats.

            • Origami Isopod

              Yep. They’re the same dipshits who sneer at “the sheeple” and deride the “soft” sciences like sociology. It’s not coincidental that sociology questions just how independent-thinking they are, or that they “built that” on their own.

              Oddly enough, they don’t have a problem with the social science known as economics.

              • DAS

                They don’t actually understand economics, though. They just think they do.

        • Harkov311

          Heck, my parents are some of the Rockefeller Republicans that switched to the Democrats around the same time (although my dad had already voted for Humphrey in 1968, McGovern in 1972, and Carter in 1976, so he wasn’t a very loyal Republican even when he nominally was one).

      • Conservatives believe in conserving the plutocracy, patriarchy, and racist caste system and they are very good at doing it.

  • catbirdman

    I don’t think any examination of this phenomenon is adequate without considering the embrace of the new “religious right” and all the obnoxious culture war issues that came with that decision. That’s when they started opposing abortion and elevating superstition over science. You can easily fit anti-environmentalism into that pattern of pandering to the Jerry Falwells and the other charlatans who didn’t/don’t give a shit about the snail darter or California Condor. Now they’re so far into that world of make believe there’s really no way out for them.

    • AMK

      Right. And while industry and ranchers obviously hate regulation because of their bottom line, most of the GOP rank and file are in it because EPA=science=not the bible. What may have started as a boardroom decision is now totally sustained by the grassroots crazy.

      • UserGoogol

        I don’t think that’s the right way of looking at it. Oil drilling is also science, after all. Evangelicals have a particular issue with biology in particular, of course. But also I think it falls more in line with secular resentment of government. And since the benefits of environmentalism are usually quite indirect, it’s easy to think of it as benefits for those nefarious Others.

        • Mike G

          Maybe it’s more “Jesus told me I can plunder the earth, because everything exists for my benefit and anyway the Rapture is coming.”

          Reagan’s chief plunderer James Watt certainly had that mentality.

          • joel hanes

            The Book of Revelations of St. John The Divine is blunt trauma for the intellect.

            • Dr. Acula

              I’m going to nitpick you and point out that it’s “Revelation” with no S.

            • Origami Isopod

              It reads like a bad acid trip.

              Per Elaine Pagels, it should be read as war literature by a war refugee with PTSD decrying his oppressors.

          • Matt

            Can’t be fucked to find the reference, but there’s been at least a couple GOP pols (or would-be pols) that have on-the-record claimed that sea level rise can’t be a problem because Gawd promised he’d never flood the planet again.

            • bender

              No more water; the fire next time.

            • N__B

              Ny current reading: New York 2140.

              Fun fact: the cover illustration includes the building I live in.

          • Davis

            Bush’s Secretary of In Interior was Gail Norton, a Dominionist.

          • Latverian Diplomat

            I think it’s important to realize that the “earth was given to man to use” and “environmentalism is pantheism” and “only God could destroy the environment” arguments are packaging, pitching the anti-environmentalist message in a language appealing to religious conservatives. It’s a very careful and cynical construction, it did not, IMHO, spring up organically.

            • Origami Isopod

              Very few modern right-wing talking points spring up organically. The Dommie ones specifically were hatched at the highest levels and propagated in their churches.

        • Hogan

          Oil drilling is also science, after all.

          Oil drilling is technology. Knowing how to do things (especially things that make you money) is fine. It’s knowing how things work that’s a threat, especially when such knowledge threatens how you make money or contradicts (or simply can’t be found in) the family Bible. The fact that how to do things is based on how things work is SHUT UP I CAN’T HEAR YOU ONWARD CHRISTIAN SO-OLDIERS MARCHING AS TO WAR

          • Origami Isopod

            Yes, this.

            There’s a reason a lot of programmers and engineers lean Republican. While there are plenty who are progressive, such as our friendly neighborhood polar bear, those professions draw a lot of people who are great with know-how and shit with know-why.

            • N__B

              Of course, I’m tainted by a masters in history. Obviously that corrupted my STEM brain stem.

          • Latverian Diplomat

            FWIW, Oil exploration is guided by geologists who are deeply immersed in the knowledge of the age of the earth and a gradualist view of geological processes.

            Admittedly, oil companies keep that sort of talk on the downlow.

            There are a proponents of the abiogenic petroleum theories, but they have a terrible track record compared to the guys who coined the term “fossil fuel”.

      • Derelict

        The ranchers and farmers make a particularly good case in point. These independent salt-of-the-Earth by-God real Americans were vehemently opposed to anything like government interference in their livelihoods.

        Until the Dust Bowl and the Depression. Then the Soil Conservation Service and a bunch of other government agencies helped these independent real Americans understand the science behind managing their fields so as to not overgraze or overcultivate and thus destroy the very thing they loved and lived off of.

        Of course, that was then. Now, it’s all just government interference in their livelihoods to expect them to follow the same advice their grandaddies did. And that’s what makes them conservatives.

  • joel hanes

    Any account of the Republican Party’s turn away from environmental science should mention corporate campaign contributions, PACs, The Heartland Institute, and the lawyers who were earlier involved in defending tobacco, and their successful strategies for delaying a truthful reckoning by a quarter-century.

    The Republicans turned for the same reason the whore was hitting Orr in the head with the heel of her shoe : because they were paid to do so.

  • cpinva

    on top of all this, James Watt was the asshole who tried to ban The Beach Boys from playing at the 4th of July party on the Mall. instead, he wanted to bring in his “wholesome” friend from Las Vegas, Wayne Newton.

    • efgoldman

      James Watt was the asshole who tried to ban The Beach Boys from playing at the 4th of July party on the Mall.

      Well, they were really edgy, doncha' know.
      FSM almighty, by Sanctus Ronaldus’ time the band was over 20 years old and the members were in their 40s. They couldn’t have been more “establishment” if they’d been Lawrence Welk or Guy Lombardo.
      And yet, people kept voting for the assholes.

      • BubbaDave

        Tribalism is a hell of a drug. Racist tribalism, even more so.

      • cpinva

        “Well, they were really edgy, doncha’ know.”

        true enough. exactly what was it that Rhonda was supposed to help him with? people want to know!

    • David Chop

      I lived in the DC region at the time and remember this clearly. Watt claimed they attracted “the wrong element.” I’m not much of a Beach Boys fan, but I’m sure he meant me none the less. Every 4th my friends and I would camp out on the mall for the concerts and the smoke-in. My first protests, still in my tender teenage years. Pot is an herb, Reagan is a dope! Pot is an herb, Reagan is a dope! Ah memories.

      • cpinva

        you should have been there for the Bi-Centennial bash, biggest.crowd.ever on the mall. plumes of smoke could be seen all around.

    • Hogan

      Not many people remember this, but the Mall that day had a three-drink minimum, so Wayne would feel at home.

  • Manny Kant

    My Dad worked for EPA for about four decades (with some interludes working temporarily for Democrats on Capitol Hill), from the early 70s to the early part of this decade, when he retired.

    My sense from him was that, the Gorsuch interlude aside, the Republican Party was not necessarily so bad for the environment. There were always (or, at least, from the late 70s onwards) right-wing nutjob types who wanted to dismantle EPA. But most of the actual key Republican positions were held by moderates or pragmatists. One of my Dad’s favorite EPA administrator’s was Bush 41’s administrator, Bill Reilly. In Congress, many of the Republican seats on the relevant committees were held by pro-environment moderates. So we got Robert Stafford and John Chaffee chairing Environment and Public Works during periods of Republican control.

    It was really only the Bush years (after Christie Whitman left, I think, and with Inhofe as chairman of Environment and Public Works after 2003) that the inmates really got charge of the asylum.

    • efgoldman

      It was really only the Bush years (after Christie Whitman left, I think, and with Inhofe as chairman of Environment and Public Works after 2003) that the inmates really got charge of the asylum.

      I know that facts, and particularly science, have a liberal bias, but holy shit, don’t these people breathe the same shitty air and drink the same hideous water everyone else does?
      I recognize that Flint wasn’t originally seen as a problem because it was mostly those people who were affected, but don’t the selfish, ignorant bastards care about their own kids?

      • John Revolta

        Dunno about the air, but bottled water used to be more of a 1 percenter kind of thing.
        I remember Mae West once said in an interview, “Tap water? I hear it’s good for washing your car”.

        • N__B

          I believe West was comparing tap water to liquor, not tap to bottled.

          • Origami Isopod

            Yep. Her contemporary W.C. Fields said he refused to drink water because “fish fuck in it.”

          • John Revolta

            No, she was espousing Poland Spring water as I recall.

            • N__B

              Off the cuff, or paid?

              • John Revolta

                Well, one never knows, but it wasn’t an advertisement. It was in an interview.

      • Manny Kant

        Definitely with some of these people (e.g. James Watt) the idea is that the Second Coming will happen before we have time to ruin the earth much.

      • PunditusMaximus

        The nihilism predates 2016.

        And I grew up with a lot of Republicans’ kids. I assure, there is a faction that gives zero shits.

  • Harkov311

    And of course, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Congress was passing groundbreaking environmental laws by nearly unanimous votes (which is why it drives me crazy when Richard Nixon gets called a “liberal” for signing these laws).

    Indeed, support for environmental protection wasn’t considered a “liberal” position until after Reagan.

    • CrunchyFrog

      Yes. Pollution was horrible in the 1960s. It was a non-partisan issue. Cities were choking in smog – tap water was unhealthy all over the place – everywhere people were being affected by toxic waste in local sites. This wasn’t one of those issues where the impact was mostly to people of certain lower classes or certain races – it was universal.

      Simultaneously, another universal issue was shock and dismay at the dramatic increase in species extinctions and the destruction of wilderness. Keep in mind the context. Yes, the industrial revolution had been going on for over a century at that time, but the real acceleration in its destructive powers came about in the aftermath of WW2. Prior to WW2 cars were mostly used for short distances and most people didn’t even have them. Prior to WW2 industrial destruction was relatively confined to certain areas, meaning air and water pollution. Prior to WW2 most of the really destructive chemicals hadn’t even been invented. Thus, for most people this was a new issue, one that started getting discussed in the latter 50s and became big news in the 1960s.

      The environmental movement had a broad appeal. It had its roots in science, so logical thinkers could embrace it, but it was also in a big way anti-science (or “science” as it was represented on 1950s and 1960s TV, which was really industrial technology). So if you were a luddite or fundie you could get behind it too … this was before right wing propaganda painted all environmentalists as tree-hugging hipsters. A lot of it was resistance to “progress”: people in rural areas seeing their farmland paved over for sprawl; people unhappy with freeways tearing up neighborhoods; people feeling overwhelmed by the pace of new technology. Throw in the background fear of nuclear war for good measure. Being pro-environment in 1968-1972 was even easier than rooting for the US Olympic team, and even less controversial.

      Furthermore, the wingnut idea that “government can’t do anything right but roads, war, and imprisonment” hadn’t yet been hatched out of Heritage, which didn’t exist then. Both parties at that time actively looked to government programs to solve real problems. So of course the Clean Air and Water Act and Endangered Species Acts had no opposition.

      No way any of those GOPers would be pro-environment today.

      • Origami Isopod

        Pollution was horrible in the 1960s. It was a non-partisan issue. Cities were choking in smog – tap water was unhealthy all over the place – everywhere people were being affected by toxic waste in local sites.

        And the Cuyahoga River burning merrily away.

      • catbirdman

        Great point — it was easy for everyone to be behind keeping rivers from catching fire, and behind saving the Bald Eagle, which was truly in dire straits, but when they learned that saving species meant you had to worry about some little fish nobody had ever heard of it got dicier. Still, people have generally understood and supported the concept that you can’t just eradicate species from the earth one by one unless some species happens to have a large enough fan base. But the R’s have been chipping away at all that, and the whisper campaigns against science are part of that effort. The only way to fight this effectively is through strong public education, and of course R’s are also against that, so…

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          I first heard of “Agenda 21” from a libertarian (at the time, now he’s thrown in with the republicans) acquaintance- and I could sort of understand why he’d look for something that didn’t indict his career as a diesel fuel/gasoline supplier as a crime against humanity

          probably ten-twelve years ago another guy, someone whose family mine has known as good neighbors for generations, started telling me about the “research” he was doing to make the case *against* man made climate change for his Sunday School class… there’s times I don’t know why I’m not *doing* time, you know?

      • BiloSagdiyev

        A lot of it was resistance to “progress”: people in rural areas seeing their farmland paved over for sprawl

        Picayune correction! Other people’s farmland paved over for sprawl. As someone who grew up in a once-rural part of NJ, I must say that those who owned land got to make millions. Covered briefly in this documentary.

        Furthermore, the wingnut idea that “government can’t do anything right but roads, war, and imprisonment” hadn’t yet been hatched out of Heritage, which didn’t exist then.

        Which is now quaint, as Spanish multinational firms/scammers are given toll road contracts/rent seeking guaranties on sections of our interstates, Blackwater/Xe/Academi/Minderbinder work for our government (or the Chinese government, or whatevs), and GEO group runs more prisons.

        One can only wonder what their next wet dream is. Oh wait, there’s no real mistaking their future projects. Egads, what a bunch of creeps.

  • Davis

    Carter put solar panels on the White House; Reagan took them down.

  • Origami Isopod

    Ah, James Watt, pioneer of diversity.

  • N__B

    I like this post and the discussion, but every time I refresh the browser takes me up to the top of the page. I look at that fucking piece of shit and 37 years of anger washes over me.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      my mom still regards that guy as the worst thing that happened, even after trump

      OT you might find somewhat interesting: http://lacrossetribune.com/photos-take-a-look-inside-the-batavian-building/collection_3b772d87-b44c-505b-9473-9a9dc628fbc1.html#1

      one of the archive photos is of the third or maybe fourth floor as one big open room full of women sitting at tables doing clerical work. Things just always get different

      • N__B

        I love the 50s-era signage, covering the entire second floor to uglify the facade.

        From the mid-1890s until the 1970s, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone outside of a few architectural historians with anything good to say about Richardsonian Romanesque, but I like it.

  • Robert P

    The latter part of the Reagan administration was actually pretty good on environmental issues. Anne Gorsuch was replaced by William Ruckelshaus, a genuine “moderate republican” who did a lot to restore the EPA’s reputation. Ruckelshaus’ successor at EPA, Lee Thomas, took the lead in establishing the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. He was supported by Secretary of State George Schultz (and opposed by Donald Hodel at Interior, but Hodel lost that debate.) Richard Benedict’s book, _Ozone Diplomacy_, describes this politics in detail.

    The anti-environment stance really came to the fore after the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, although it had been lurking in the background for some years.

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