Hey, that’s my uncle!

The photo with “Why I Miss Richard Nixon” shows my uncle Russell Train, who went on to become administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under Presidents Nixon and Ford.

Nixon gave him wide authority in the early 1970s to usher in such landmark legislation as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, Superfund, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and initiatives to protect wetlands and ban dangerous pesticides, among many other progressive environmental protections. My uncle was not a political personality, and he strongly supported the scientific research carried out at EPA. The generally free rein he enjoyed was gradually curtailed by Ford’s chief of staff from Wyoming, a young Dick Cheney.

In the early 2000s, my uncle was asked to chair an Environmentalists for Bush campaign committee. Dismayed by the president’s environmental agenda, he refused. At age eighty-five, he switched parties and became a Democrat. In 2004, while leaving a family gathering, he stood in the doorway with both arms spread, fingers in V’s, a la Nixon, and declared to us, “Never vote Republican!”

Uncle Russ was always warm and welcoming. He was a consummate gentleman with a broad and humane world view.

David Thomas-Train, Keene Valley

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