None of my news readers pulled it up, either last August and September, when U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Penn., got the bill through Congress and signed into law by President Bush, nor a couple of weeks ago when the action occurred.
Rep. Rob Bishop’s, R-Utah, incendiary and inaccurate statement on the bill was what caught my eye originally about the continuing campaign of calumny against the author and scientist.
Rep. Altmire conducted a petition campaign in Pennsylvania, and used the lever of popular, bipartisan support to pry the bill loose from U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn’s hold in the Senate. Coburn is a Republican from Oklahoma, a physician, and an ardent advocate of spraying DDT. He had placed a hold on the bill in committee, stopping all action under the Senate’s rules of profound deference to members.
The swell of popular support made clear by Altmire’s campaign appears to have persuaded Sen. Coburn to allow the bill to move. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent on August 3, 2007, and got President Bush’s signature on August 9. These sorts of honorary bills generally are not targeted for political points. That Coburn allowed the bill through suggests a good deal of maturation as a senator on Coburn’s part.
Below the fold, Rep. Altmire’s press releases on the bill’s passing the Senate, and on President Bush’s signing the bill.
Photo below: Rachel Carson, birding, on a ridge (in Pennsylvania?); photo found at site of Professor Catherine Lavender, The College of Staten Island of CUNY.
Here is the text of Rep. Altmire’s release on Bush’s signing the law:
President Signs into Law Altmire Bill to Honor Rachel Carson
(Natrona Heights, PA) — Today, President George W. Bush signed into law legislation (H.R. 1434) authored by Congressman Jason Altmire (PA-4) that will rename the post office in Springdale after Springdale native and scientist Rachel Carson. The bill was finally signed into law after a skillful campaign was launched by Congressman Altmire to overcome opposition in the Senate to Rachel Carson’s condemnation of the pesticide DDT.
“Rachel Carson was born and raised in Springdale, and she is an icon to its residents and our region,” said Congressman Altmire. “The renaming of the post office at 896 Pittsburgh Street in Springdale as the Rachel Carson Post Office means a great deal to the small town she once called home. I am pleased we were able to overcome disagreements in the Senate over Rachel Carson’s writings and that we will finally be able to recognize one of our region’s most famous citizens.”
Congressman Altmire introduced H.R. 1434 to honor Rachel Carson, who is best known for her writing on natural history, environmental research, and the promotion of policies to protect public health. Her most famous work, Silent Spring, published in 1962, inspired widespread public concerns about the use of pesticides and led to the ban of DDT. Through Silent Spring, Carson brought conservation to the forefront of public discourse, and she is credited with beginning the modern environmental movement.
The House passed H.R. 1434 on April 23; however, the measure was stalled for months in the Senate by Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, who objected to Carson’s writings on DDT. In response, Congressman Altmire organized a local petition drive, gathering 150 signatures from area residents, and collecting letters of support from elected officials and local organizations, including Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, County Councilman James Burn, County Councilwoman Susan Caldwell, the Rachel Carson Homestead Association, Carnegie Mellon University, and Chatham University, Carson’s alma mater.
Following the outpouring of support from southwestern Pennsylvania in favor of H.R. 1434, Senator Coburn agreed to release his hold on the bill. On August 1, the bill was reported out of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Reform Committee. It passed by Unanimous Consent in the Senate on August 3.
“This year marks the 100th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s birth,” added Congressman Altmire. “I sincerely thank President Bush for quickly signing this bill into law, as well as Sen. Coburn for listening to the people of Springdale, in time for the renaming of the post office to still be a highlight of the year’s celebration. This bill is not about making a political or environmental statement. It is a simple way to allow a small town to recognize one of its own at this most appropriate time.”