WASHINGTON — Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Russell Train, a leading American conservationist who helped craft some of the nation’s enduring environmental laws, died Monday at age 92.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said late Monday that as a leader with the federal agency at the time it was just starting under the Nixon administration, Train helped set the path for the ongoing work of the agency.
“His years with the agency saw landmark environmental achievements whose impacts are still felt,” Jackson said in a statement, citing laws such as the Toxic Substance Control Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, which helps protect the nation’s water.
Train came to symbolize the bipartisan nature of the environmental movement more than 40 years ago when many conservatives were enthusiastic advocates of environmentalism.
Train was appointed by President Dwight Eisenhower to the bench of the Tax Court in 1957. The Washington Post said that around that time he and his wife took two safari expeditions to East Africa and the experiences had an impact on him that lasted throughout his life.
In 1965, he left the Tax Court to take over the presidency of the Conservation Foundation, a research and education organization.
Newly elected President Richard Nixon named him undersecretary of the Interior Department and in 1970 he became the first chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, an advisory group to the president. The EPA was started in 1970 and William Ruckelshaus was its first administrator. When Ruckelshaus left to take over the FBI during the Watergate scandal, Train was chosen to lead the EPA.
“I would say the natural world has lost one its greatest friends,” Ruckelshaus said Tuesday from Seattle. “Russell Train was a pioneer in the modern environmental movement and deserves the thanks of every American, indeed every citizen of the world for his life’s work.”
Train stayed in the post through the Gerald Ford presidency and had a hand in other landmark environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Air Act.
The chairwoman of the Council on Environmental Quality, Nancy Sutley, said Train played a pivotal role in the government’s efforts to protect the environment.
“He was a serious and widely respected voice on environmental issues at a time when Americans first became broadly aware of the dangers posed by pollution to our air, waters and soils,” Sutley said. “On his watch, the United States stood up many of our landmark safeguards for public health and the environment.”
Train also served as the first president of the World Wildlife Fund’s American chapter, leading that group from 1978 to 1985.
The Post said Train died Monday at his farm in the town of Bozman on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. There was no cause of death reported.
Associated Press reporter Manuel Valdes contributed to this report from Seattle.