“Thirty-five years ago, the United States had virtually no laws in place to protect the environment. Private individuals, industry and governments could burn into the air, pump into the water, or dump onto the ground virtually anything – with impunity. Some of my proudest achievements during my service in Congress are having played a part in writing some landmark environmental protection statutes.” – John D. Dingell
The Detroit Free Press named Congressman Dingell a “2011 Michigan Green Leader” in recognition of his continued hard work and leadership on issues relating to the environment. Indeed, Dingell’s commitment to preserving and improving America’s natural resources have made him the preeminent voice in the fight to protect and improve our environment.
As an architect of the 1972 Clean Water Act Congressman Dingell was appalled that the waters of this country were treated as little more than open sewers. Industry and government were free to pollute with impunity, and our nation’s waterways, the health of its people and the lives of fish and wildlife suffered tremendously. The Clean Water Act changed all this. Now some 30 years later, America’s waters are safer and the rate of wetlands loss has declined by 75 percent.
With the passage of the Dingell-authored Endangered Species Act 30 years ago, America became the first nation in the history of the world to say that extinction caused by human neglect and interference is not acceptable. Because of this law – the manatees and cutthroat trout continue to swim, the grey wolf and the grizzly bear continue to prowl, but without the Endangered Species Act, they would all certainly be gone.
The Congressman also wrote National Environmental Policy Act, known as NEPA. Often called the Magna Carta of environmental law, it requires that the government look before it leaps. The law assures that federal agencies weigh the environmental consequences of development projects before they are undertaken.
One of the Congressman’s most enduring efforts to protect the environment can be found along the Southeastern Michigan coastline – in the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge. The Congressman’s effort made the Refuge a reality in December 2001. The first international wildlife refuge in North America, the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge is conserving, protecting, and restoring habitat for 29 species of waterfowl, 65 kinds of fish and 300 species of migratory birds.
As Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce Dingell opened the door for legislation to curb Global Warming and led the Committee in passing regulations that would remove more than 10.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, an amount equal to the annual emissions of all cars on the road in America today. Now Chairman Emeritus of the Committee, he has valuable input on legislation in the works to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
Other environmental and energy issues that Congressman Dingell continues to work on include: Safe Drinking Water, Leaking Underground Storage Tanks, Superfund, the Clean Air Act and Solid Waste. In 2007 Congressman Dingell passed legislation giving states more control over the importation of municipal solid waste, including that which comes from Canada.
John Dingell has authored, coauthored or played an integral role in many of this nation’s most premier environmental and conservation laws, including:
- The National Environment Policy Act
- Detroit International Wildlife Refuge Establishment Act 2001
- Endangered Species Act
- The Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act of 2001
- Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986, which includes Community Right to Know
- Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984
- Clean Air Act of 1990
- Lead Exposure Reduction provisions ( Title IV) of the Toxic Substance Control Act 1992 which required lead based paint disclosure provisions to protect young children
- Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments 1986 and 1996
- Federal Facility Compliance Act 1992
- Pollution Prevention Act 1990
- Criminal Enforcement Program at EPA including allowing criminal investigators to have full enforcement powers, 1988
- Conservation and Reinvestment Act of 2000 which led to large increases in funding for fish and wildlife conservation programs and tens of millions of dollars annually for the state of Michigan.
- Energy Policy Act of 1992, including provisions for alternative fuels, renewable energies
- Hazardous Materials Transportation Act Amendments of 1994
- Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (including Automobile Fuel Economy standards)
- Energy Conservation and Policy Act of 1976
- National Energy Conservation Policy Act of 1978 (including energy efficiency standards for appliances, weatherization grants for homes, and Federal building conservation requirements)
- National Wildlife Refuge Administration Act
- Pacific Northwest Electric Power, Planning and Conservation Act (environmental provisions)
- Marine Mammal Protection Act
- Anadromous Fish Act
- Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act
- Community Environmental Response Facilitation Act, 1992
- Drinking Water Security and Safety, Title IV of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism of 2001, passed House.
- Electric Consumer Protection Act of 1986