Endangered Species Act co-author dies at 96

By Robin Bravender | 05/09/2024 01:27 PM EDT

Former California Rep. Pete McCloskey helped organize the first Earth Day and enact the nation’s landmark endangered species law.

Pete McCloskey shown at his law office in Redwood City, Calif., March 16, 2006

Former Rep. Pete McCloskey, shown at his law office in Redwood City, California, on March 16, 2006, died Wednesday at age 96. McCloskey was a pro-environment, anti-war lawmaker who co-authored the federal Endangered Species Act and co-founded Earth Day. Jeff Chiu, File/AP

When a Democratic senator was on the hunt for a Republican to help organize the first Earth Day in 1970, he found California Rep. Paul “Pete” McCloskey.

“He couldn’t find a Republican in Congress who was interested, except for me,” McCloskey told The Arizona Republic in an interview years later.

The former Republican lawmaker, who died this week at age 96, was known for working across the aisle on environmental issues, notably on Earth Day and on the landmark Endangered Species Act. McCloskey died Wednesday of congestive heart failure at his home in Winters, California, according to his law firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy.


McCloskey signed up to help Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Gaylord Nelson organize that first Earth Day in April 1970.