In Memoriam: Former Deputy Administrator Alvin L. Alm

[EPA History Office - January 19, 2001]

The recently deceased Alvin L. Alm, who served as EPA Deputy under Agency Administrator William D. Ruckelshaus from 1983-85, was memorialized in a ceremony at the EPA Ronald Reagan Building Amphitheater on November 17, 2000. The EPA History Office, which has compiled an obituary file on Alm, provided Alvin L. Alm: Oral History Interview for distribution at the event.

Speakers at the Celebration of the Life and Public Service of Alvin L. Alm event included EPA Agency Adminstrator Carol M. Browner, former Secretary of Energy James Schlesinger, former EPA Agency Administrators William D. Ruckelshaus and Russell E. Train, Alm's daughter Jessica Alm, and other colleagues and friends. Browner read a letter from President Clinton, who called Alm one of the true heroes of environmental protection. Browner also noted that EPA was naming a historic room in its Headquarters Ariel Rios Building in honor of Alm.

Other speakers described Alm's public policy service as selfless, non-partisan, and dedicated, noting it spanned seven presidencies.

Career Highlights

  • In 1970, Alm became the first staff director of the newly created CEQ.

  • From 1973-77 he served as Assistant Administrator for Planning and Management at EPA, where he helped develop the water pollution permitting system, and built an economic analysis program for the agency.

  • From 1977-80, he coordinated President Carter's energy plan, then served as Assistant Secretary for Policy and Evaluation at DOE.

  • In the 1980s through the '90s, Alm managed Harvard's new energy security program; served as Deputy at EPA; served in environmental consulting; and served as President Clinton's Assistant Secretary of Energy in charge of cleaning up U.S. nuclear waste sites.

  • Alm returned to the private sector in 1998, and at the time of his death at age 63 he was executive director of the Council of Infrastructure Financing Authorities.

Clinton Letter to Family and Friends of Alvin Alm

November 9, 2000

To the Family and Friends of Alvin Alm:

Hillary and I were deeply saddened to learn of Al's death, and we join you in paying tribute to his life and achievements.

Al Alm was one of the true heroes of the environmental movement in America. Time and again, throughout a long and distinguished career in both the public and private sector, he answered the call to service, tackling some of our toughest environmental challenges with skill and enthusiasm, unquestioned integrity, and single-minded determination.

He helped to shape the mission and accomplishments of the Council on Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy in their crucial early years and played a pivotal role in creating and enforcing the historic Clean Water Act. Returning to EPA in 1983, he helped restore employee morale and public confidence in the agency at a critical juncture in its history. And as my Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environmental Management, Al once again took on the toughest of challenges: cleaning up our nation's nuclear waste sites.

Heroes like Al Alm all too often go unsung because they work quietly in the trenches and away from the headlines. But Al's contributions to restoring the health and beauty of our environment will ensure a better quality of life for generations of Americans to come. No one could ask for a finer legacy.

Hillary and I extend our deepest condolences. We are keeping all of you in our thoughts and prayers.

Bill Clinton