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Who said: “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
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Thumbnail of President Jimmy Carter (source)
President Jimmy Carter
(1 Oct 1924 - )

American president and farmer who was the 39th President of the United States.

Jimmy Carter - Superfund Legislation

Illustrated Quote - Large Image (800 x 600 px)

“The Superfund legislation... may prove to be as far-reaching and important as any accomplishment of my administration. The reduction of the threat to America's health and safety from thousands of toxic-waste sites will continue to be an urgent…issue…”
— U.S. President Jimmy Carter
Keeping Faith (1980)

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Photo of worker surrounded by metal barrels of chemical waste, in full-cover protective suit, wearing gloves and breathing mask
EPA worker, wearing protection gear, samples a potential toxic waste barrel to determine its contents. (source)
The Context of Jimmy Carter's Superfund Legislation Quote

On 7 Aug 1978, President Carter approved Federal emergency financial aid to the residents of the Love Canal neighborhood in the city of Niagara Falls, New York. Their homes bordered an old canal that from 1947 to 1952 been used as a landfill for hazardous waste by the Hooker Chemicals and Plastics Corporation. That was leaching out, into the area homes, and the chemicals endangered the health of the residents. They had experienced high rates of birth defects and miscarriages, and in their basement air, samples showed chemical levels up to 5,000 times higher than what was considered safe. Polluted water pooled on the surface of the landfill. Pets died. Children burned their feet.

Then came the questions about who would foot the bill for the Love Canal clean-up. The contamination had produced a disaster area for which there was no precedent in Federal law. Meanwhile, 239 families had to be evacuated, and their homes were to be purchased at a cost of twelve million dollars. More families would need to be evacuated on later evidence of harm.

On 13 Jun 1979, President Carter asked Congress for legislation that would establish a $1.6 billion fund to enable the Government to respond to the Love Canal and similar hazards, and that the financial burden should fall on those chiefly responsible for generating toxic materials. Special legislation was enacted that became known as the Superfund, and on 11 Dec 1980, shortly before he left office, President Carter approved the Superfund to control toxic wastes at the Love Canal site, and others that had come to light.

In one of his books1, Jimmy Carter wrote that “The lame-duck legislative session was remarkably productive. … Action was completed on all but one of the energy bills, on a landmark act establishing a “Superfund” to help ameliorate the blight of toxic-waste sites, and—finally—on the Alaska lands bill for which I had waited so long.

The Superfund legislation set up a system of insurance premiums collected from the chemical industry to clean up toxic wastes. This new program may prove to be as far-reaching and important as any accomplishment of my administration. The reduction of the threat to America's health and safety from thousands of toxic-waste sites will continue to be an urgent but bitterly fought issue-another example for the conflict between the public welfare and the profits of a few private despoilers of our nation's environment.”

In the following decades, the Superfund that President Carter had set in motion cleaned up hundreds of toxic waste sites across the nation, but hundreds more are known and remain on a priority list for action.

By 2002, when Republican George W. Bush was president, Time magazine printed an article headlined, “Superfund Gets the Super Shaft.” It stated his dramatic shift in business-friendly policies “may prove to be something of an amnesty for many corporations penalized under the Superfund sites,” and how, “over the past few years, the burden of Superfund expenses slowly shifted away from corporations and over to taxpayers,” as the “Bush administration wants to rewrite that policy to save corporations up to $1 billion per year in taxes.”2

1 Jimmy Carter, Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President (1980) 590-591.
2 Jessica Reaves, Time (25 Feb 2002).

See also:

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
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