Friday, March 19, 2010

Earth Day, Gaylord Nelson, Honored By Congress

NEWS from Congressman Dave Obey (WI-07)

For IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday March 19, 2010

Contact: Sara Merriam (202) 225-3365


As Many as One Billion People to Participate in Earth Day 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – Today Congressman Dave Obey introduced a resolution commemorating the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, 2010, and honoring the founder of Earth Day, the late Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. The resolution has 57 co-sponsors in the House, including the entire Wisconsin delegation. Senators Kohl and Feingold will introduce a companion resolution in the Senate.

“The fortieth anniversary of Earth Day is a great day to call attention to the many environmental and public health challenges that face everyone on the planet. It is also a great opportunity to reflect on the history of the Earth Day movement and to pay tribute to one of recent history’s great statesmen and founding father of the movement, our former Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson,” Obey said.

“Forty years ago Gaylord Nelson instituted his idea for a national Earth Day which has expanded and grown to the event it is today. We will all remember him for his hard work and public service. In his memory, we celebrate Earth Day and work to protect our natural resources,” Kohl said.

“Earth Day has always had a special meaning for Wisconsinites, both because of Gaylord Nelson’s tremendous leadership and because of our state’s long tradition of conservation and respect for the environment. I am proud to help honor Gaylord Nelson’s legacy and that Wisconsin tradition with this resolution. But with the environment continuing to face threats, such as climate change and the erosion of protections for our waters and our skies, we must continue Gaylord Nelson’s fight. This resolution is both a commemoration of Earth Day and Gaylord Nelson’s life work and a commitment to keep fighting for clean air and water,” Feingold said.

“Gaylord Nelson recognized that the best way to save the planet was to get the people involved. Through Earth Day, he reminded us that preserving our environment, finding renewable sources of energy, eradicating poverty, and ensuring health care for all, will not be achieved by the words of politicians, but by the will of the people. He left a powerful and lasting legacy,” said Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin.

Rep. Petri said, "Senator Nelson had a long and highly accomplished career, first in the Army - including the Battle of Okinawa during World War II, then with service in the Wisconsin state senate, as governor and then U.S. senator. He capped his career working for Wisconsin, our country and beyond by founding and becoming the chief spokesman for Earth Day - for the 25 years following his retirement from the Senate, building it into a major national environmental cause."

Earth Day was “born” in September, 1969. In a speech, Senator Nelson suggested that, just as Americans had been involved in “teach-ins” to protest the Vietnam War, the country should also set aside a day to call attention to the environmental problems facing our planet and to demand that Congress address those pressing issues.

The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, brought together 20 million people and gave rise to the modern American environmental movement. Forty years later, as many as one billion people globally may participate in Earth Day 2010 on April 22nd.

In addition to founding Earth Day, and among numerous legislative accomplishments, Senator Gaylord Nelson was responsible for legislation that created the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and the St. Croix Wild and Scenic Riverway, and sponsored legislation to ban phosphates in household detergents.

For additional information on Earth Day and Senator Nelson’s role in its founding, please visit:

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