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John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
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Well, I think somewhere way back in the early part of this oral history I'm sure I talked about Hawk Mountain and my early interest in the environment.




Well, that continued. And within a very few years after I got to the Times I instituted an environmental column. During that period in the 50s, because I had written stuff on the environment, I was, became involved in another trip we've already talked about, out West, to take a look at the proposed Echo Park Dam. The head of the Sierra Club asked me, after a while, if I wanted to become the first East Coast member of their board. I was interested enough in this to accept. So I was for several years a member of the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club, which was and still is a very activist environmental organization, which I still think very highly of. I guess developing out of what I was writing, and what began to be known as, I guess, a pro-environment guy, I met up with the man who was organizing the Natural Resources Defense Council -- this was in 1970 -- a lawyer here in town. I think we met at an environmental conference at Princeton, and he asked me if I wouldn't join this organization that he was forming just at that time. His name was Steve Duggan. And that was the Natural Resources Defense Council. I said sure, because I was truly interested in the kind of thing they were about to do, which was a legal and scientific -- non-profit, of course, but both a legal and scientific organization to push for better environmental protection, based on scientific standards. We had some first- class scientists and still do, even much more so now, twenty-eight years later. But also, some really hot young lawyers, fresh out of Yale, primarily -- Yale Law School -- and one particularly notable one [John Adams] who was in the U.S. Attorney's office here, in New York. Everybody in the group -- directors, scientists, lawyers, staff -- was fired up on

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