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Nelson, who passed away in 2005 at age 89, served as the governor of Wisconsin and, later, a three-term senator. Back in 1969, with the United States embroiled in the Vietnam War, Sen. Nelson witnessed the effects of a massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. He left determined to help.His goal, says EarthDay.org, was to harness the growing power of the antiwar movement and to "infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution." Sen. Nelson, a Democrat, didn't make it a partisan issue, recruiting Rep. Pete McClosksy, a Republican, to serve as his co-chair.
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The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, featured rallies and teach-ins across the United States.Read More »from Earth Day's History