Clean air logoEdmund S. Muskie Archives

a glimpse into the Senator's archives located at Bates College


The following vignettes were selected from the Edmund S. Muskie Archives at Bates College, Lewiston, Maine:


When California standards were less stringent than federal standards

In 1973 the Conoco petroleum company supported the air quality standards proposed by the California Air Resources Board since they were less stringent than federal standards set by the Clean Air Act of 1970. According to a Conoco advertisement, the proposed California standards for 1975-76 emissions ranged from 3 to 18 percent less than the federal standards, would result in less fuel consumption, and would cost an average driver about half as much -- an estimated savings of $66 billion for American drivers. Citing public opinion running 8 to 1 in their favor from a survey of 22,000 gasoline credit card holders, Conoco urged Muskie to give "serious thought to amending the Clean Air Act now, while there is still time to avoid a massive commitment that is not in the public interest."

Muskie replied with a brief form letter and statement to the effect that, in light of conflicting data, "Congress should commission an independent review of matters relating to auto emission control."

W.H. Burnap to Edmund S. Muskie, June 25, 1973; Muskie to Burnap, July 9, 1973; SE 2323-9, Muskie Archives.


The National Research Council's study of the environmental effect of chlorofluoromethanes on stratospheric ozone.

A letter from Philip Handler, President of the National Academy of Sciences to Muskie in 1976 reported new concerns about the role of chlorine nitrate in stratospheric chemistry and possible nonlinear interactions between the catalytic cycles of chlorine and nitrogen.

Muskie's reply indicated his interest in this issue on behalf of the Senate Subcommittee on Environmental Pollution, his support of funding for continuing studies of atmospheric chemistry, and the role of the EPA in regulatory affairs.

Philip Handler to Edmund S. Muskie, May 10, 1976; Muskie to Handler, July 23, 1976; SE 2424-6, Muskie Archives.


Muskie too harsh in amending the Clean Air Act

A frustrated citizen of the United States expressed to Muskie in 1973 his concerns with the new proposed amendments to the Clean Air Act. This man believed that the bill "has turned out to be a self-consuming monster that should be killed before it gets too late." He addressed the economic stresses on this country and labeled Muskie as the "Maine Strangler...of the American way of life" if this stress continued.

Muskie's reply was a form letter briefly stating the need of the Congress to review the issue, and he enclosed a full outline of his position.

Milosh Benesh to Edmund S. Muskie, June 13, 1973; Muskie to Benesh, July 9, 1973; SE 2425-5, Muskie Archives.


Independent inventor seeks help from Congress

In an emotional, hand-written letter, Mrs. Eddie York, a resident of Maine, sought help from Muskie to fund her son's invention. She explained their financial troubles and described her son's invention of an inexpensive add-on motor vehicle device to significantly reduce emissions. Her son wanted to patent his idea, but he needed someone to finance him.

Muskie replied suggesting he contact the EPA because "Congress has neither the means nor the jurisdiction to engage in the testing or financing of such devices."

Mrs. Eddie York to Edmund S. Muskie, January 25,1971; Muskie to York, 1971; SE 1838-11, Muskie Archives.


Undergraduate student expresses views on air pollution abatement

A student from Colby College communicated his support for the Clean Air Act and its amendments, and he declared the importance of retaining strict policies in order to produce significant results. He also urged Muskie to "continue your effective battle against the massive pressure of industry" and keep fighting for the cause of clean air.

Mark R. Dalton to Edmund S. Muskie, February 12, 1976; SE 2425-3, Muskie Archives.



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