Forty years ago today, RN held a ceremony at which Chief Justice Burger swore in the first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: William Ruckelshaus. RN said: “We are very proud to have had him in the administration in a very distinguished assignment with the Justice Department over the past 2 years, and we are very proud to have him and his fine family here today to be present for this swearing-in ceremony.” (Ruckelshaus would later return to Justice and lose his job in the Saturday Night Massacre.)

At The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal writes:

1970 was a year of tremendous environmental action by Nixon and Congress.The President signed the National Environmental Policy Act on January 2nd, delivered a call to make “the 1970s a historic period when, by conscious choice, [we] transform our land into what we want it to become” in his State of the Union Address, and ended the year with the creation of an independent agency to regulate the environment.

It’s almost impossible to imagine such strong bipartisan support for environmental legislation these days, but politicians of all stripes were responding to real and serious problems in the country’s towns, suburbs, and wilderness areas.

Photo: William Ruckelshaus is sworn in as the first Director of the EPA.