William Ruckelshaus

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I've had an awful lot of jobs in my lifetime, and in moving from one to another, have had the opportunity to think about what makes them worthwhile. I've concluded there are four important criteria: interest, excitement, challenge, and fulfillment. I've never worked anywhere where I could find all four to quite the same extent as at EPA. I can find interest, challenge, and excitement as [board chair of a company]. I do have an interesting job. But it is tough to find the same degree of fulfillment I found in the government. At EPA, you work for a cause that is beyond self-interest and larger than the goals people normally pursue. You're not there for the money, you're there for something beyond yourself. [26]

Subsequent career

1980s and 1990s

Ruckelshaus was at Perkins Coie, a Seattle-based law firm, from 1985 to 1988. [22] From 1983 to 1986, he served on the World Commission on Environment and Development set up by the United Nations. [19]

From 1988 to 1999, he served as chief executive officer of Browning-Ferris Industries of Houston, Texas, a major and expanding waste-removal firm. [5] During his tenure, Browning Ferris shifted from a focus on hazardous wastes to recycling. As the company expanded its operations into New York City, Ruckelshaus "helped investigators infiltrate a Mafia-dominated carting conspiracy, leading prosecutors to obtain indictments." [4]

After leaving Browning-Ferris, Ruckelshaus became a partner in the private investment firm, Madrona Venture Group. [5]

President Bill Clinton appointed Ruckelshaus as a member of the President's Council for Sustainable Development from 1993 to 1997, [5] and as U.S. special envoy in the implementation of the Pacific Salmon Treaty from 1997 to 1998. [5] [22] He was also appointed Chairman of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board for the state of Washington. [27]

2000s and 2010s

Ruckelshaus speaks in 2010 at an EPA event celebrating the agency's 40th anniversary. 40th Anniversary Speakers Series, William Ruckelshaus.jpg
Ruckelshaus speaks in 2010 at an EPA event celebrating the agency's 40th anniversary.

Ruckelshaus was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the United States Commission on Ocean Policy, [4] which submitted its Final Report to the President and Congress, An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century, in 2004. [28]

In June 2010, Ruckelshaus became co-chair of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative. [29]

Ruckelshaus served as a director on boards of several corporations, including Isilon Systems, Monsanto, Cummins, Pharmacia, Solutia, Coinstar, Nordstrom, Pfizer, and Weyerhaeuser. [30]

He was Chair of the Advisory Board of The William D. Ruckelshaus Center [31] at the University of Washington and Washington State University, Chair Emeritus of the University of Wyoming's Ruckelshaus Institute for Environment and Natural Resources, Chairman Emeritus of the World Resources Institute, [32] and Chair of the Meridian Institute. He was a director of the Initiative for Global Development. [33]

In 2008, Ruckelshaus endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 election for President of the United States. [34] In August 2016, Ruckelshaus and another former Republican-appointed EPA administrator, William K. Reilly, jointly endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in the 2016 election. [35]

In 2008, Ruckelshaus was appointed to the Washington State Puget Sound Partnership, an agency devoted to cleaning up Puget Sound. [36] In early 2012, Ruckelshaus was appointed co-chair of the Washington Blue Ribbon Panel on ocean acidification. [37]

In August 2018, Ruckelshaus drew parallels to the actions of President Donald Trump's administration relating to special prosecutor Robert Mueller and Ruckelshaus's own experiences during the Massacre and with President Nixon's "disrespect for the rule of law" in an opinion-editorial in The Washington Post . [20]

He died 5 months before 2 other Acting FBI Directors, James B. Adams and John E. Otto, and 6.5 months before FBI Director, William S. Sessions.

Presidential Medal of Freedom

In November 2015, Ruckelshaus was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House. [38] [39]


Ruckelshaus died at his home in Medina, Washington, on November 27, 2019, at age 87. [4] [40]

See also

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Bill Ruckelshaus
William Ruckelshaus.jpg
1st and 5th Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
In office
May 15, 1983 February 7, 1985
Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for
U.S. Senator from Indiana (Class 3)

Succeeded by
Legal offices
Preceded by United States Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division
January 20, 1969 – December 4, 1970
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Deputy Attorney General
July 9, 1973 – October 20, 1973
Succeeded by
Political offices
New office Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
December 4, 1970 – April 30, 1973
Succeeded by
Preceded by Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
May 15, 1983 – February 7, 1985
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by
Pat Gray
Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

April 30, 1973 – July 9, 1973
Succeeded by