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George E. Brown Jr
An Exceptional Leader in Science
Historic Environmental Agenda
Originating environmental protection, programs & precedent
"My friend George"
GreenPolicy Siterunner / SJS: George was looking forward to the 21st century and especially to the challenge of nuclear non-proliferation, his concern for decades. George was a visionary, an engineer, a vet who opposed disastrous war, and a leader in Congress who led from California in shaping the modern environmental movement. In his rumpled suits and quiet way he moved to form coalitions few thought could be formed and garnered support for the first set of U.S. Congressional acts that served as foundation legislation for decades of green progress. His work advanced environmental air quality and clean air legislation. He introduced the nation's first bill to ban lead in gasoline. He attacked Los Angeles smog, some of the worst air quality of any city in the world at the time and the air standards that came out of California became models worldwide. He succeeded in clean water efforts, though rarely given credit given his quiet approach to accomplishing big picture goals. As one example, he "championed" and was a key player in legislation founding the Environmental Protection Agency, as the LA Times noted (without pomp or circumstance) in George's obituary in 1999: "He championed the creation of the federal Environmental Protection Agency". The EPA was in many ways his vision achieved..."
The 'EPA era' was based on science and the new realizations of science and the environment. Representative Brown was for decades the Congressperson out in front of "big science". George Brown was a key figure in proposing, establishing, and saving the Landsat program, the uniquely 'open-access' database of imagery of Earth that's moving toward its fifth decade with Landsat 9. A leader on the House science committee for over 30 years, George legislatively engineered an array of science efforts, including one that greens look to as prescient -- he drafted legislation establishing the first national climate change research program via the National Climate Program Act of 1978. His profound accomplishments are especially missed now in the current era as anti-science positioning in the U.S. Congress threatens national and global security...
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George's obituary, Born: March 6, 1920 - Died: July 15, 1999 (aged 79)
A Conversation with George E. Brown Jr.; The Congressman Who Loved Science
Mr. Brown, 79, has been a crucial supporter of manned and unmanned space exploration. He was an author of legislation creating the Environmental Protection Agency, a prime mover behind efforts to include ozone layer protections in the Clean Air Act...
"From my earliest days, I was fascinated by science," Mr. Brown said in his offices on Capitol Hill, his wife, Marta, at his side. "Also by my earliest days, I was fascinated by a utopian vision of what the world could be like. I've thought that science could be the basis for a better world, and that's what I've been trying to do all these years."
Recollection from 1977 - George Brown goes Green
Not many U.S. Congressmen can claim to have an "integral urban district office" complete with solar heating and cooling, a lean-to greenhouse, and bee-hives. Representative George E. Brown, Jr. (D-Calif.) can, however ... because he does have just such office facilities.
Two years ago — when Congressman Brown decided that he wanted solar heating for his Colton, California office building (an old house located in a semi-residential part of town) — he asked his staff to design and install a low-cost, low-technology heating system by themselves. He told his aides that they were free to seek expert advice, but that they should attempt to do as much of the actual construction as possible.
So while Brown was away in Washington, his staffers outfitted the building with an air-handling, "active" solar heating setup that employs a single large wood-and-fiberglass solar collector and a bin loaded with 13 tons of rock for heat storage ... a setup that — so far — has provided virtually 100 percent of the office building's winter heating needs. (The same system can be used to provide cooling during the summer, although — because of the desert-like temperatures that hit the area during the summer months-supplemental cooling must also be used.)
In back of the aging office structure, Brown's aides built a lean-to "solar greenhouse" that furnishes the main house with additional solar heating and provides the Congressman's staff with a year-round supply of fresh vegetables.
A year or so ago, Brown's staff members decided they wanted to "raise" honey as well as vegetables ... so they "coaxed" a swarm of bees into an empty hive, and within six months harvested 100 pounds of the golden sweetener!
Because of the great amount of public interest in these and other of the Congressman's activities, Brown recently encouraged the Agricultural Division of the University of California's Cooperative Extension to apply for federal funding to open a community food preservation center in nearby Riverside, California. The application was approved.
If it has to do with living-better-for-less alternatives, chances are the honorable George E. Brown, Jr. knows about it ... or is already doing it!
-- Linda Martin / Mother Earth News
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Reflecting on the Dreams and Work of George E. Brown
SJS / Siterunner: George was the man who convinced me to look at politics as a serious calling. When I was a young teenager in East LA, looking out at a larger world in which I had yet to travel, and debating nuclear proliferation, the debate topic of the year as high schools were considering why sirens were on occasion loudly going off and forcing us to crawl under our desks, the man I got to know in Monterey Park was at the beginning of his career in politics and science.
For the next 35 years he was my mentor and an inspiration of what can be done to make a difference and create a better world. George was a visionary with tousled hair, a professorial look, a smelly pipe and a twinkle in his eye. He was always there for his constituents, like me, an East LA kid who grew up to be a friend and cohort as we did green work over the years. George was a real presence in Congress, in science and environmental achievements, from the first Earth Day to the first federal program to study climate science, from the first earth science research from space to 'big science' projects that carry on to this day.
Back in the early days, we would speak of these political efforts, and especially the immediate reality of the 'smog' in LA, which might have been at that time the worst in the world, and how we needed to clean up the air. I spoke of my asthma with George and his engineering background provided his perspective with advantages over the run-of-the-mill politicians in DC in knowing how to best address the pollution from cars, the gas engines that were becoming ubiquitous in fast-growing suburban Southern California.
When I was in college at USC in the 1960s and becoming deeply involved in politics, we continued to speak of the children in Los Angeles and their lung problems and scientific and medical studies that were vividly (shockingly) demonstrating the consequences of growing up in the most polluted air in the country.
As George became a leader in Congress and ran for US Senate, opposing the Vietnam war and I helped organize in DC what became the largest anti-war group, the Vietnam Moratorium Committee, we spoke of war and peace and how to change the nation's war policies and role in the world. George worked tirelessly in Congress for change. With saving the environment in his sight, he moved conservative and liberal politicians in his direction.
George saw connections that transcended states and nations. A key goal was setting up an EPA as an umbrella agency to coordinate environmental federal and federal-state efforts... George was a "first-mover" as the term has come to be known. He had a big-picture plan and set out to accomplish it. He succeeded on multiple fronts, pushing forward the idea and the vision for 'omnibus' legislation. The Environmental Protection Agency was founded and historic initial green laws and regulations for environmental protection and security were passed.
George was among the first voices to be raised warning about the environmental threat of climate disruption and, although few realize, he was a the forefront of the initial efforts to study the climate, the atmosphere, combining his engineering skill with his legislative reach, he drafted the "National Climate Program Act" of 1978. 1978 Climate Act PDF via GreenPolicy360 He brought to bear his extensive work with US scientists, especially bringing into the public sphere the 1977 Energy and Climate Report of the National Academy of Sciences, and he left us a legacy of vision and action.
George, as chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, over the years has a key role in nuclear weapons oversight. His letter to the head of the Department of Energy in February 1992 remains a testimony to what came close to happening as a new "strategic plan" for the Department of Energy nuclear labs was being debated. George saw an alternative to the existential threat of nuclear weapons as the Cold War came to an end and alternatives were envisioned. Your GreenPolicy360 editor, at that time, was often in communication with the Congressman on this issue, as I also worked alongside Governor Jerry Brown in formulating the presidential campaign platform of our campaign in 1992. Nuclear issues were top of mind, as were nuclear reduction efforts, non-proliferation and treaties to reduce nuclear stockpiles and build monitoring conventions.
Today many of the actions of George Brown continue as models for citizens, cities and nations of the world. California and greens moved out in front with ideas to improve quality of life and in our GreenPolicy work George's work continues. Yet, political forces have turned in opposition to the environmental work, the anti-nuclear work, the anti-war work. Much again is at risk and at stake as we look out at a strategic horizon with pressing demands.
George remains with us always in his legacy of accomplishment. I miss him often but know he is still around. I feel him when I write of green ideas and look to our kids and education and our shared future...
http://www2.epa.gov/aboutepa/epa-order-11102 (EPA page removed during Trump administration)
- Visit removed page at Wayback Machine -- https://web.archive.org/web/20160612172556/http://www2.epa.gov/aboutepa/epa-order-11102
http://www2.epa.gov/aboutepa/birth-epa (page removed during Trump administration)
- Visit removed page at Wayback Machine -- https://web.archive.org/web/20160802172545/https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/birth-epa
http://www2.epa.gov/aboutepa/guardian-epas-formative-years-1970-1973 (removed during Trump administration)
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The George E. Brown, Jr. Archive at the University of California
"Congressman, a visionary who championed the environment, alternative energy, human rights and education. When he died in office in 1999 at the age of 79, he left a legacy that included establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Science Technology Policy, Section 8 housing for low-income people and scholarships for veterans."
Details of that legacy – from his first political post as mayor of Monterey Park, Calif., to his chairmanship of the House of Representatives Science Committee – survive in 525 boxes and nine file cabinets of personal papers donated recently to the University of California, Riverside by his widow, Marta Brown...
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Congressman Brown / Science Committee in Front of Climate Action
- The first federal program established to study and assess scientifically the issues and risks of human-caused climate change
- Ten years after the National Climate Program Act was drafted by Representative Brown and the legislation's passage in 1978 led by the Congressman began the federal government's study of climate change, impacts and risks.
- Professor Hansen warned the US Senate about the rising danger of climate change
- More regarding James Hansen's testimony to Congress in 1988, thirty years on ...
Note: June 3, 2016
Siterunner / SJS: As a member of the Wiki community, we/GreenPolicy are presently acting to update the Wikipedia biography of Congressman George E. Brown. The following update expresses our point of view and current communications with Wikipedia.
GreenPolicy Siterunner / June 2, 2016: I'm corresponding w a Wikipedia editor to update George E Brown's bio -- some changes are made and this one below is now under consideration - basically I want them to add the Congressman's central role in proposing/drafting key environmental legis that began the modern envir movement, including drafting this statute, the beginning of the Federal climate change research program in 78, no inconsiderable accomplishment considering what is at stake
Here are a few lines that I wrote to the corresponding Wikipedia editor re: the George Brown listing:
>The Congressman served for more than 30 years on the House Science Committee. See the last paragraph here, a NY Times citation - http://www.nytimes.com/1999/03/09/science/a-conversation-with-george-e-brown-jr-the-congressman-who-loved-science.html
A CONVERSATION WITH: GEORGE E. BROWN JR.; The Congressman Who Loved Science
>Consider this quote from the NY Times (a few months before his death in 1999)
>He was an author of legislation creating the Environmental Protection Agency, a prime mover behind efforts to include ozone layer protections in the Clean Air Act and an advocate of restructuring the national weapons laboratories to meet the needs of a peacetime economy.
>Also re the current Wikipedia bio wording >Among some of his many accomplishments during his service on the House Science Committee:
>>Established the first federal climate change research program in the Federal Climate Program Act of 1978
>In fact George Brown was the principal author of the initial legislation and leader on this climate change/policy issue (and considering the importance of this subject, climate change.) I'd recommend wording that is more exact -- eg, "author of legislation that established..." and adding a link to the exact Legislative Bill ie, Public Law 95-367 https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/STATUTE-92/pdf/STATUTE-92-Pg601.pdf. Adding specific language about Representative Brown's drafting the bill is historically important and would be more precise than "during his service on the House Science Committee"... "established the first federal climate change program..."
Over the years George Brown worked alongside California legislators and political leaders to push a new environmental agenda. In his powerful roles out in front of the the US House of Representatives, especially on science and environment, George created a legacy. George Brown and California Governor Jerry Brown allied in many initiatives and legislative efforts that led the nation, states -- and the world -- in shaping a visionary environmental record. California's 'out in front' achievements as a leader in environmental work and model green policies and practices continue forward, watched and replicated by countries, states and communities globally.
Here is a tip of the hat h/t to George Brown, and Jerry Brown, and science, and environmental green visionaries around the world.