Lawyer helped shape environmental rules, probed Japanese internment camps in U.S.
Angus C. Macbeth, an environmentalist and member of an unofficial cadre of lawyers who helped shape environmental regulations in the years following the 1970 creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, died Jan. 22 at his home in Washington. He was 74.
The cause was cardiovascular disease, said a son, Hampden Macbeth.
Mr. Macbeth was among the earliest members of the Natural Resources Defense Council, organized in 1970 by a group of seven classmates at Yale Law School. It is now an organization of about 500 lawyers, scientists, and policy experts that litigates and lobbies for environmental issues at the federal, state and local level.
As an NRDC lawyer in the 1970s, Mr. Macbeth helped bring about Consolidated Edison electric company’s abandonment of plans to build a power plant at Storm King Mountain on the Hudson River. On behalf the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association, he argued in litigation that the plant would be injurious to fish in the river.
During the Jimmy Carter administration, Mr. Macbeth was chief of environmental enforcement at the Justice Department. From 1981 to 1983, he was special counsel to the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, which investigated the World War II roundup of ethnic Japanese in the United States and their confinement in camps.
He wrote a report on the commission’s work, “Personal Justice Denied,” which concluded, “Not a single documented act of espionage, sabotage or fifth column activity was committed by an American citizen of Japanese ancestry or by a resident Japanese alien on the West Coast.”
The report served as a basis for the 1988 legislation that gave Japanese internment camp survivors an apology, $20,000 individual reparations and an education fund.
Angus Christian Macbeth was born May 9, 1942, in Los Angeles, where his father was a lawyer.
Mr. Macbeth grew to around 6-feet-2, and his formal manner gave off an air of confident authority. He also spoke with a slightly British accent, likely acquired during his high school years, when he attended an English boarding school.
He graduated in 1964 from Yale University, attended the University of Oxford in England, and graduated in 1969 from Yale Law School.
From 1986 to 2006, Mr. Macbeth was a partner in the Washington office of Sidley Austin, where he headed its environmental group. He was a former president of the American College of Environmental lawyers.
Survivors include his wife of 42 years, JoAnn Engelke Macbeth of Washington; and two sons, Hampden T. Macbeth of Washington and Cullen Oakes Macbeth of Las Vegas.
Angus Macbeth was an early member of the Natural Resources Defense Council.