University of Vermont

Vermont Quarterly

A hike with Hub

Professor Hub Vogelmann, Gov. Madeleine Kunin, Marcelle Leahy, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Admin. Lee Thomas, Rep. James Jeffords.
Professor Hub Vogelmann, Gov. Madeleine Kunin, Marcelle Leahy, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Admin. Lee Thomas, Rep. James Jeffords. Photograph by Bob Paquin

EXTRA CREDIT

A hike with Hub

by Senator Patrick Leahy

During the decades that I knew him, I would call on Hub Vogelmann frequently for scientific advice on national environmental issues and Vermont conservation topics. I looked to him to help place the conservation issues of our time at the top of the national agenda. Hub’s research on acid rain was at center stage when, during a Senate hearing, I pushed Lee Thomas, President Reagan’s EPA administrator, on the issue. It was an uphill push; remember that President Reagan famously stated that more air pollution comes from trees than from cars, and Lee was a “Doubting Thomas.” I challenged Administrator Thomas, on the record, to come to Vermont and climb Camel’s Hump with Hub and me to see the damage firsthand, and I was surprised when he accepted.

On the day of the climb, Senator Stafford and then Congressman Jeffords joined the expedition, as well as many Vermont officials and environmental advocates. The media came, too, with their cumbersome camera equipment. The expedition was so large in number that the Green Mountain Club had to station guides along the way to provide water and to keep people on the trail.

We snaked slowly up the 4,000-foot mountain with Hub in the lead. It was well worth the effort when Hub gave Administrator Thomas a look at acres of acid-scorched dead spruce covering the flanks of our most iconic peak. With the evidence staring him in the face, it was impossible for him to question the impact of acid rain. That revelation helped to make possible work that led to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, the most important national pollution control law adopted in the past twenty-five years.

This was one moment of many in Hub’s career and life, where he made an impact on an individual, and on the nation. He led the way for generations of scientists and conservationists to make an impact with their own work, and this is his legacy.

Professor Emeritus Hubert “Hub” Vogelmann passed away in October. Senator Leahy’s tribute to him was read at the Ira Allen Chapel service celebrating Vogelmann’s life.

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