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DDT WarsRescuing Our National Bird, Preventing Cancer, and Creating EDF$
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Charles F. Wurster

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190219413

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190219413.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 June 2021

Sue the Bastards on Long Island: The Power of an Idea

Sue the Bastards on Long Island: The Power of an Idea

2 (p.13) Sue the Bastards on Long Island: The Power of an Idea
DDT Wars

Charles F. Wurster

Oxford University Press

During the fall of 1965, a small group of people living on central Long Island, New York, with interests and concerns about a variety of environmental issues had begun to meet monthly in each other’s living rooms. Attendance of 25 to 30 included scientists from Brookhaven National Laboratory and the State University of New York at Stony Brook, in addition to various conservationists and a few high school students. The group called itself by the noneuphonious name of Brookhaven Town Natural Resources Committee, which quickly became BTNRC for obvious reasons. BTNRC was fascinating and enjoyable, but hardly an organization. There was no office, staff, money, bylaws, elected officers, or any of the other ingredients usually present in an organization. It was just a group of people who met occasionally to foster environmental protection policies by our local governments, and we all had other daytime jobs. We discussed various environmental issues—pollution from duck farms, dredging of wetlands, sewage pollution, DDT use on local marshes, dump sites, groundwater protection, wildlife and habitat preservation, and so forth. Meetings usually ended with one-person committees assigned to go do something during the weeks that followed, typically writing a letter to a congressman, a local politician, or a local newspaper. There was no treasury or treasurer, so occasionally we tossed a dollar or two into the middle of the room so that Myra Gelband, one of Art Cooley’s dedicated high school students, could send postcards to announce the next meeting. Attendance was excellent because meetings were fun with good company, good humor, and coffee and donuts at the end. The only feature of this nonorganization was that we had a letterhead printed to give the impression that there was, in fact, such an organization. We needed a bit of puffery to appear greater than we were, for otherwise we feared nobody would listen to us. Everyone seemed to like each other and got along well. An enjoyable social mix is surely a motivational factor that helps explain which groups continue and grow, and which ones stagnate.

Keywords:   Brookhaven Town Natural Resources Committee (BTNRC), Constitution, environmental quality, Fifth Amendment of US Constitution, Rachel Carson Memorial Fund, Scientific American, Yannacone vs. Mosquito Commission, civil rights movement, gypsy moths, plankton, sovereign immunity

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