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Reader's view: Oberstar was a true champion for clean water

The sudden passing of former 8th District Congressman Jim Oberstar has elicited many comments in praise of Jim’s good works. Those comments have reflected a good portion of Jim’s life of service.

There is more. Jim Oberstar was a true champion of clean water — all of our water! He would be one of the few members of Congress ever to receive a top award from the shipping industry and, in the same year, receive equally significant recognition from the environmental community for his decades of clean-water advocacy.

Before running for Congress, Jim worked in the House of Representatives on the legislation that preceded passage of the Clean Water Act. He witnessed the debates that preceded passage of the act. He often described those debates as some of the most extensive and thorough discussions of any legislation, section by section. He took to heart that Congress in 1972 intended to protect all of our waters. He never wavered, even if it hurt him politically. He introduced legislation on two separate occasions in response to Supreme Court rulings that he clearly described as misguided. We with the Izaak Walton League agreed with Jim.

One thing more about Jim Oberstar: He and the environmental community did disagree from time to time. Examples of disagreement included Jim’s legislative approach on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Nonetheless, he reached out to encourage discussion and reaction among his opponents and his supporters on that issue.

And Jim Oberstar never closed his office door to those of us who from time to time disagreed with him on conservation issues. He did not let disagreement on one or two issues prevent finding common ground on other issues.

What a treasure he was.

Rich Staffon


The writer is president of the W.J.

McCabe Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America and submitted this letter from the chapter.