Friends of Rachel Carson win a quiet victory

How quiet?

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.

The Post Office in Rachel Carson’s home town, Springdale, Pennsylvania, has been named in her honor. The ceremony at the Post Office was held on May 27, 2008.

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 originally found at site of Professor Catherine Lavender, The College of Staten Island of CUNY.

Rachel Carson, birding at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Rachel Carson, birding at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

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.”

Rachel Carson out birding with children (Image via College of Staten Island, and Minnesota Historical Society)

Rachel Carson out birding with children (Image via College of Staten Island, and Minnesota Historical Society)

8 Responses to Friends of Rachel Carson win a quiet victory

  1. […] by Jimmy Carter in 1980. The Post Office in Rachel Carson’s home town, Springdale, Pennsylvania, was named in her honor on May 27, […]


  2. […] for Rachel Carson The Post Office in Rachel Carson’s home town, Springdale, Pennsylvania, has been named in her honor. The ceremony at the Post Office was held on May 27, […]


  3. Bobby jaltif says:



  4. […] When it infects policy makers it causes legislative and executive crackups, like Oklahoma’s Sen. Tom Coburn, who held up the naming of the Rachel Carson Post Office for a year under the bizarre misconception that she played a role in spreading malaria (ditto for […]


  5. […] even Oklahoma’s reigning Senate fool Tom Coburn lifted his hold on the bill naming for Rachel Carson the post office in her […]


  6. […] In those cases, Carson’s critics called for a return of massive spraying of DDT.  Eventually most of them backed off of calling for outdoor spraying.  Eventually Sen. Coburn lifted his hold on the post office renaming legislation (and it passed). […]


  7. Silent Spring

    Since her death from breast cancer in 1964, Rachel Carson has come to be celebrated as a hero by environmentalists. The title “Silent Spring” refers to the sad absence of songbirds in springtime because they die from eating insects containing toxic amounts of DDT and other pesticides.

    To read more:

    Rachel Carson and Silent Spring by Jeffrey Dach MD

    Jeffrey Dach MD
    4700 Sheridan Suite T
    Hollywood Fl 33021


  8. […] the last word Via Ed Darrell a quiet victory for friends of Rachel Carson with the abandonment by Senator Tom Coburn of a block on the naming, in her honor, of the post […]


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