Environment: Lettie Saves the Rails

From their early crusades against pollution, environmentalists have rapidly expanded the scope of their activities to tackle such issues as land use and energy policy. Now the courts have gone a step further by including declining rail service on the list of environmental concerns. Federal District Judge Marvin E. Frankel has ruled that the Interstate Commerce Commission cannot allow abandonment of any railroad service without showing that such an action does not "significantly affect the quality of the human environment."

The judge's decision is largely the result of a one-woman campaign launched by Lettie Gay Carson, a onetime newspaper reporter who...

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