Image by The Washington Post
Republican Rep. Sherwood L. Boehlert, age 85, passed away on Monday in New Hartfield, New York. He spent 24 years representing Central New York and fighting for environmental awareness and protection.
Former Rep. Boehlert was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1982. He was viewed as a moderate conservative due to his traditional fiscal values paired with his liberal stance on environmental actions.
Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, said that “Sherry Boehlert dedicated himself to the proposition that protecting our air, water and land must be a bipartisan American priority. He was a statesman who repeatedly put aside partisan concerns and took political risks in order to meet the great environmental challenges of our time.”
His legislation included amendments for preexisting laws passed to protect the environment, such as those that targeted daily emissions, as well as the Clean Air Act. In 1995 he insisted to uphold the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency, despite a proposed appropriations bill, which earned him the nickname, “Green Hornet” by National Journal. Furthermore, Boehlert addressed the issue of climate change early in his political career and is championed by voters and environmentalists to this day for his efforts.
He once commented on his effectiveness to instigate social change regarding the environment in 1997, when he told the Syracuse Post-Standard, “Those that are anti-environment can’t accept the fact that the majority is pro-environment, and they don’t like to lose,”. This stance was evident later in his career when he won President George W. Bush’s support for a multi-billion-dollar scientific education project called the American Competitiveness Initiative
Former Rep. Boehlert made enormous contributions to environmental law as it is known today. In the end, his willingness to cross partisan lines and focus on issues affecting his constituents is still valued, admired, and used a template for future representatives.