A huge oil spill. A river catching fire. Lakes so polluted they were too dangerous for fishing or swimming. Air so thick with smog it was impossible to see the horizon. That was the environmental state of the nation 50 years ago.
But early in the 1970s people demonstrated throughout our nation, and a different kind of Congress than that which we have today, was instrumental in creating the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with important legislation: The Clean Air Act; Clean Water Act; and the Endangered Species Act.
Today, Trump and his miserable Republican Congress have been doing whatever they can to get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency and the very Acts that have helped to keep us in clean air, water and non poisonous food, as well as protecting animal species that are in danger of extinction. The man that heads the EPA - appointed by Trump - is more interested in spending our tax money on himself than he is on keeping us free from pollution.
Livia Albeck and Kendra Pierre-Louis have written an article (which I have edited for length) to remind us af what triggered the creation of the EPA, and why it is so important to keep it and our clean air, water and food acts, as well as our protection of endangered animals.
THIS FOLLOWING IS JUST SOME OF WHAT AMERICA WAS FACING BEFORE THE EPA
The Santa Barbara Oil Spill
On January 28, 1969, an oil rig exploded off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif., spewing three million gallons of crude oil into the ocean in one of the worst environmental disasters in the history of the United States.
At the time, there were no federal measures in place to regulate offshore drilling.
After the spill local officials pleaded with the federal government to end oil exploration off the California coast. But it was not until 1978 that the first federal regulations were passed.
A Santa Barbara beach in 1969. The oil spill killed thousands of birds, seals and sea lions. CreditVernon Merritt III/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
The Cuyahoga River Fire
On June 22, 1969, the Cuyahoga River near Cleveland caught fire — both literally and in the public imagination. A few months later the conflagration became a big story in Time magazine, which described the Cuyahoga as a river that “oozes rather than flows.”
The Cuyahoga River in Cleveland in 1952. The river burned at least 13 times before the 1969 fire that was covered by Time magazine. CreditGetty Images
THE SMOG FILLED SKIES
The Love Canal Disaster
In the late 1970s, residents of Love Canal in Niagara Falls, N.Y., began complaining of odd smells, rashes and liquid leaching into the basements
of their homes. Decades earlier, the Hooker Chemical Company had dumped toxic waste in the canal and buried it. Outraged, the residents of Love Canal organized and were eventually relocated from their town.
While the residents of Love Canal were not the first or only community
to confront the toxic legacy of industry, their plight caught the attention of national media, and ultimately, helped prompt the creation of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act,
The Philadelphia city center at sunset in 1973.CreditU.S. National Archives
Pittsburghers used to say that if you wore a white shirt to work in the morning, that the shirt would be as gray as the air by lunchtime. In cities and towns throughout the country, Americans didn’t just breathe the air, they could all but touch it. In the nation’s National Parks, air pollution clouded the views.
This was the United States before the 1970s Clean Air Act.
In recent months the Trump administration has signaled its desire to undo some of parts of the act. Mr. Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator, has said that Obama-era car emissions standards designed to reduce greenhouse gasses and other pollutants linked to respiratory diseases and heart disease are set “too high.”
THE NEAR EXTINCTION OF THE GREY WOLF
In the early 1970s, the gray wolf was teetering on the edge of extinction in the lower 48 states. In its company were dozens of other species at risk of dying out, with few laws to protect them.