The Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division Muskie-Chafee Award honors a current or former federal employee who, in large measure through government work, has made significant contributions to protecting our nation's environment, public lands, and natural resources, and fulfilling of our nation's responsibilities to Native Americans and their natural resources. The award is named after two leaders of the modern environmental movement, Senator Edmund S. Muskie and Senator John H. Chafee.
The Muskie-Chafee Award recognizes that enforcement, defense, and implementation of our nation's environmental laws, regulations, and treaties protecting Native American resources are critical to the preservation of our environment. The unwavering commitment and tireless efforts of federal employees make those laws, regulations, and treaties real. Often these people work with little recognition and compensation. They do so because they believe strongly that protecting our environment is important, for this generation and those to come. Today we honor with the first Muskie-Chafee Award one of the many federal employees, past and present, whose work and dedication has made a real difference in protecting our environment.
Senator Edmund S. Muskie (1914-1996) of Maine served in the United States Senate for 22 years. During that time, as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environmental Pollution of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, he made an enduring contribution to public health and welfare. As the author of the nation's landmark environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, Senator Muskie established himself as the Senate's leader in Environmental legislation. Through these and subsequent laws, Senator Muskie left a legacy as a pioneer in the protection of the environment. Senator Muskie retired from the Senate in 1980 to serve as Secretary of State under President Carter. He received many awards during his public career including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Former Members of Congress, and the Notre Dame Laetare Medal.
Senator John H. Chafee (1922-1999), throughout his long and illustrious career, proved himself a unique leader in the not-always-popular fight to protect our nation's natural resources. Among his many accomplishments, Senator Chafee authored cornerstone legislation such as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Oil Pollution Act, and the Coastal Barrier Resources Act. He also helped to strengthen and safeguard environmental and conservation protections through such laws as the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act. From expanding the National Wildlife Refuge system and providing for the reduction of ozone destroying chemicals, to establishing an environmentally-focused national transportation policy, Senator Chafee helped ensure the health and accessibility of the natural world for all Americans. As a moderated Republican, Senator Chafee was successful in blunting anti-environmental initiatives, while helping to build strong bi-partisan consensus for more progressive approaches to environmental protection. His leadership earned him universal respect in both political and conservation circles.
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