Biography of William D. Ruckelshaus: First Term

William D. Ruckelshaus, former Agency Administrator

Information archived in 2016.

William Doyle Ruckelshaus served as the first EPA Agency Administrator, from December 1970 to April 1973. During EPA's formative years, he concentrated on developing the new agency's organizational structure; enforcement actions against severely polluted cities and industrial polluters; setting health-based standards for air pollutants and standards for automobile emissions; requiring states to submit new air quality plans; and the banning of the general use of the pesticide DDT.

He left EPA in 1973 to serve as Acting FBI Director, during the Nixon Administration's cabinet openings following the breaking of the Watergate scandal, then served briefly as Deputy Attorney General at the Justice Department.

From 1973 to 1975, he served as an attorney for Ruckelshaus, Beveridge, Fairbanks and Diamond. In 1975 he relocated with his family to Seattle, Washington, where he served as a senior vice president at the Weyerhaeuser Company from 1976 to 1983.

During President Reagan's term, White House Chief of Staff James Baker asked Ruckelshaus to return to EPA, following Anne Gorsuch Burford's tenure as Administrator. In his 1983-85 term as Administrator, Ruckelshaus worked to improve staff and public morale towards the agency, and advanced the process of risk-based decision-making for environmental risks subject to EPA regulation. He also oversaw removal of the pesticide ethylene dibromide (EDB) from U.S. agricultural use, reaffirmed EPA commitment to a federal-state partnership to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay, and helped EPA institute tighter controls on hazardous waste management.

Earlier in his career, Ruckelshaus had served as Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (1969-70); as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives (1967-69); and as Deputy Attorney General of Indiana (1960-65). He began his career in law with the Indianapolis firm of Ruckelshaus, Bobbitt and O'Connor (1960-68).

After completing his second term as EPA Administrator, Ruckelshaus joined the Seattle law firm Perkins Coie (1985-88), then served as CEO of Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI), Inc. (1988-95) and also Chairman of the Board of BFI from 1988-99. He is now a principal in Madrona Investment Group, L.L.C., a private investment firm in Seattle, and a strategic partner for the Madrona Venture Group, formed in 1999.

Ruckelshaus has served as Chairman of the Board of the World Resources Institute (1999- ); special envoy to the Pacific Salmon Treaty between the U.S. and Canada (1997-98); Chairman of Enterprise for the Environment (1996-97); and on the President's Council for Sustainable Development (1993-1997). He has served on the boards of directors of Cummins Engine Co., Monsanto Co., Nordstrom, Inc., Weyerhaeuser Co., Inc., Gargoyles, Inc., Coinstar, Inc., and Solutia, Inc.

Ruckelshaus was born in 1932 in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is a graduate of Princeton University (B.A., 1957) and Harvard University (LL.B., 1960). He is married and has five children.

Biographical Note
1932 Born July 24th, Indianapolis, Indiana
1957 B.A., Princeton University
1960 LL.B., Harvard University
1962 Married Jill Elizabeth Strickland
1960-65 Deputy Attorney General, Indiana
1960-68 Attorney, Ruckelshaus, Bobbitt & O'Connor (Indianapolis, Indiana)
1963-65 Chief Counsel, Office of Attorney General, Indiana
1965-67 Minority Attorney, Indiana Senate
1967-69 Member and Majority Leader, Indiana House of Representatives
1969-70 Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, Department of Justice
1970-73 EPA Agency Administrator
1973 Acting Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI);
Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice
1974-76 Attorney, Ruckelshaus, Beveridge, Fairbanks & Diamond (Washington)
1976-83 Senior Vice President for Law and Corporate Affairs, Weyerhaeuser Co. (Tacoma, Washington)
1983-85 EPA Agency Administrator (second term)
1985-88 President, William D. Ruckelshaus Associates;
Attorney, Perkins Coie (Seattle, Washington)
1988-95 Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Browning-Ferris Industries, Inc. (Houston, Texas)
1988-99 Chairman of the Board, Browning-Ferris Industries, Inc.
1996- Principal, Madrona Investment Group, L.L.C.
1997-98 U.S. envoy to Pacific Salmon Treaty with Canada
1999- Chairman of the Board, World Resources Institute;
Strategic Partner, Madrona Venture Fund