Russell E. Train, former EPA head, dies at 92

“His years with the agency saw landmark environmental achievements whose impacts are still felt, like the passage of the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the initial implementation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System that protects our nation’s waters,” Jackson said.

Train, in a 1992 interview, recalled his role in pushing for establishment of EPA, as opposed to proposals for a major new federal Department of Natural Resources and the Environment.

“I said at the time that what we needed — and what the public wanted — was an organization with a clearly defined mission: to be the sharp, cutting edge of environmental policy in the government, and at the same time be clearly identifiable and understood by the public. I like to think that I had something to do with moving the decision in that direction,” he said in the interview, which was posted on EPA’s website.

EPA was formally established in late 1970. 

Train also held several major roles in the nonprofit conservation field. WWF CEO Carter Roberts, in a statement, called Train an “architect of the modern conservation movement” and a “national treasure.”

“Undoubtedly Russ would prefer that we not spend a lot of time mourning his passing. He would want us to redouble our efforts to save the animals and places we care about, to solve the problems of climate change and resource scarcity and to build leadership capacity in those countries where it’s needed most,” Roberts said.

Train passed away at his farm in Bozman, Md., according to several published reports.

The New York Times notes that Train, a Republican, was widely considered the father of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, a benchmark law that requires federal agencies to gauge the environmental impact of major actions before allowing them.

Beginning in the late 1940s, Train, a Rhode Island native and attorney, had several roles on Capitol Hill and in the federal government before becoming a top environmental official under former Presidents Nixon and Ford.

They included service as chief counsel and then minority adviser to the House Ways and Means Committee, and head of legal advisory staff at the Treasury Department, in the 1950s.

He then became a judge on the U.S. Tax Court from 1957 until 1965. He later became president of the Conservation Foundation from 1965 through 1969. Train was chairman emeritus of the World Wildlife Fund at the time of his passing.

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991.

Train is survived by his wife, Aileen, and children Nancy, Emily, Bowdoin and Errol, according to WWF.