Edmund Sixtus Muskie, who died in 1996 just two days short of his eighty-second birthday, will rightly be remembered as “a great environmental legislator” during his service as United States Senator from Maine from 1959 through 1980, followed by his appointment as United States Secretary of State by President Jimmy Carter. In large measure, Muskie attained that distinctive status as a result of his intelligent, innovative and entrepreneurial leadership from 1963 until 1980 as Chairman of the Senate Public Works Committee's (later renamed Environment and Public Works) Special Air and Water Pollution Subcommittee (the “Subcommittee”). From this Senate perch, Muskie “had a hand in crafting the majority of the important federal environmental statutes” during the 1960's and the 1970's—the genesis of modern environmental law in the United States—and “gained the informal nickname of ‘Mr. Clean’ for his advocacy of [federal] environmental issues.” What is less appreciated and understood, however, is that Edmund S. Muskie's roots as an extraordinary federal environmental legislator go back to his two terms as Governor of the State of Maine from 1955 to 1958. It was during this formative period in the late fifties when Governor Muskie—as Maine's Chief Legislator and Chief Executive—learned, in depth, about the pollution and natural resources problems of the Pine Tree State. This Article, part of a work-in-progress that I hope will ripen into a book-length environmental biography of the man, provides a foundational study of Senator Muskie's gubernatorial years in Maine by focusing on his leadership while governor in seeking knowledge about, responding to, and managing a host of natural resources and pollution issues facing his state during a time when the environment did not attract much national public attention. It describes how Muskie, as governor of an economically poor but resource rich New England state, shrewdly and methodically learned about and dealt with pollution and resource concerns of his state within a larger framework of environmentally-appropriate economic development and growth.

First Page