Human Rights Legislation
Jackson-Vanik Amendment, January 10, 1975
The Jackson-Vanik Amendment, part of the Trade Reform Act of 1974, offered Most Favored Nation Status (MFN) and official credits to the Soviet Union and other non-market economy countries only in the event that they respected the right to emigrate. Although the language was broadly inclusive, the Amendment was targeted to help Jews, non-Orthodox Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities in the USSR who sought to emigrate from a country which discriminated against them and who were prevented from doing so by the Soviet government. From the time it was introduced in 1972 to its eventual passage by Congress in December 1974 (signed into law in January 1975 by President Gerald Ford), the Amendment was controversial within U.S.-Soviet relations. In the end the Amendment is credited with the emigration of hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews and thousands of other members of minority groups from the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries. The Jackson-Vanik Amendment became and remains to this day a potent symbol of a new approach to foreign policy that explicitly linked America’s human rights ideals with political, economic and trade relations.
Senator Jackson’s closing words in introducing the Jackson-Vanik Amendment reflect his commitment to human rights:
“We must not now, as we did once, acquiesce to tyranny while there are those, at greater risk than ourselves, who dare to resist.”
Senator Jackson was an integral figure in the shaping of federal environmental policies during the 1960s and 1970s. Throughout his career he was committed to protecting and managing the environment wisely while also balancing economic interests. As chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for 18 years, he was instrumental in passing legislation authorizing national parks, diversifying energy resources, and providing public standards for land use decisions. Following is a history of the environmental legislation he sponsored.
For additional information, visit the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections which has an extensive and unique archive that holds documents, photos, films and other historical documents related to Senator Jackson’s career.
Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act
This act added more than 47 million acres to the National Park System and converted most of the national monuments in Alaska into national parks and preserves. This legislation more than doubled the size of the national park system.
Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978
The Natural Gas Policy Act (NGPA) granted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) authority over intrastate as well as interstate natural gas production. The main goals of the Act are: Creating a single national natural gas market; Equalizing supply with demand; and Allowing market forces to establish the wellhead price of natural gas. – See more at: http://energylaw.uslegal.com/government-regulation-and-programs.
Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Amendment
The original act set up a framework for oil and natural gas leasing, exploration, and development activities on the outer continental shelf of the U.S. The amendment of 1978 required the secretary of the interior to submit an assessment each year of the cumulative effects of these activities on the human, marine, and coastal environments, and provided environmental oversight.
Endangered American Wilderness Act
This act designated 1.3 million acres of land in the western U.S. as wilderness areas, with the intent of preserving them for recreation and enjoyment.
Olympic National Park Expansion
Additional acreage was added to the Olympic National Park, bringing it to 922,000 acres-more than 95% of which remains in its natural state.
Redwoods National Park Expansion
This act addressed the problem of the encroachment upon parks by adjacent activities. The coastal redwoods in Redwood National Park were being threatened by logging activities outside the park boundaries. In 1978, Congress expanded the park boundaries to encompass the remaining watershed and ecosystem.
Surface Mining and Reclamation Act
This act regulated surface coal mining operations and required that adverse impacts on fish, wildlife and related environmental values be minimized. It also created an Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund, which is used to restore and reclaim land and water resources affected by mining operations.
Alpine Lakes Wilderness
This act established a vast wilderness that sits astride the Cascade crest. The Alpine Lakes Wilderness comprises more than 360,000 diverse acres, and is home to some of Washington’s premier outdoor destinations.
Federal Land Policy and Management Act
This act made the Bureau of Land Management a permanent entity within the federal government, and formalized and established policies for the use of huge areas of public land in the U.S.-especially in western states. Prior to its passage, much of the nation’s public lands were not regulated to protect and sustain their value for future generations.
Federal Lands for Parks and Recreation Act
This act made surplus federal land in urban areas available for purchase as park land at little or no cost to local authorities. This immediately benefited Seattle, where the recently decommissioned Fort Lawson was purchased to create both Discovery Park and 20 acres of tribal land where Daybreak Star Cultural Center opened in 1977.
Youth Conservation Corps Act
This act authorized a program employing young adults to work 90 days a year on federal parks and lands, where they are able to enhance the natural resources and appreciate the environment and the American heritage. It also made funding available for states to initiate similar programs directed toward state lands and waterways.
Establishment of Redwoods National Park
This act created the Redwoods National Park to protect old-growth coastal redwoods, some of the world’s tallest trees. The park totals 58,000 acres.
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
This act established a national environmental policy, created the Council on Environmental Quality and required the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement assessing potential impacts to the environment before any major federal project or action was approved. NEPA later became a model for similar legislation in Washington, and other states and nations.
National Trail System Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
This act provided for the protection and preservation in free-flowing condition of selected rivers that possessed outstanding scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic or cultural values for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. It identified eight rivers and adjacent lands in nine states as initial components of the wild and scenic rivers system, and also named 27 other rivers or river segments to be studied as potential additions to the wild and scenic rivers system.
Establishment of North Cascades National Park
This act created the North Cascades National Park Service Complex, comprised of 684,000 acres of wild land.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund Act
This act regulates admission and special recreation user fees at certain recreational areas and establishes a fund to subsidize state and federal acquisition of lands and waters for recreational and conservation purposes. The purposes of the act are to assist in preserving, developing and assuring accessibility to outdoor recreation resources and to strengthen the health and vitality of U.S. citizens by providing funds and authorizing federal assistance to states in planning, acquiring and developing land and water areas and facilities, and by providing funds for federal acquisition and development of lands and other areas.
The Wilderness Act
This act established 9.1 million acres of federally protected wilderness in national forests for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans. It established a National Wilderness Preservation System, composed of federally owned areas designated by Congress as “wilderness areas” that would be administered in a way that would leave them unimpaired for the use and enjoyment of the American people as wilderness areas.
“Outdoor recreation is an integral part of American life and a major component of the national economy.”
Senator Henry M. Jackson