GiIbert F. White
the causes of that environmental movement not so much in concern for
alternatives and full investigation of consequences. I think they're of a
broader sort. It was partly a product of increased affluence.
Society could afford to consider the effect that Echo Park had at Dinosaur
Monument. In part, it reflected a discontent which was growing quite rapidly
with big business, big government, big universities. In part, it came from
discomfort with the increasingly complex technology, a distrust of confident
human control of nature. And certainly in the late sixties it was a
displacement phenomena growing out of the Vietnam War in the United States
and in some other countries.
So I would think of the environmental concerns of the sort represented by
Rampart and Echo Park as of somewhat different origin than those that led to
the great push for NEPA at the end of the decade.
In 1966 you got involved with a Bureau of the Budget study dealing with
floodplain management. I wonder if you could explain to me the origins of
that study and your involvement in it, and conclusions?
As I recall, the director of the Bureau of the Budget called me up and asked
me if I would come in and talk about the status of federal flood control
activities, indicating that there had been extensive expressions of
dissatisfaction among bureau staff about the policies that were being followed
and the appropriation programs. I went in and talked with a number of the
staff, and they proposed that I should do a consultant's report on the status of
flood control. I thought it over and said I thought that would be largely a
sterile activity. I might be able to write a moderately intelligent report but I
didn't think it would have any significant influence. I felt that something that
might possibly have influence would be a joint effort in which there were
representatives of the federal agencies serving as individuals but nevertheless
drawn from the agencies, together with people from the outside who could
jointly present their reactions and their recommendations to the director of the
Bureau of the Budget, with the knowledge that the findings were going to be
carefully reviewed later by the agencies. The bureau accepted that
recommendation, so I became chair of a group or task force, rather than
doing an independent study.
Who were some of the primary people on the task force?