Clean Technica | By: Bob Sussman | February 02, 2018:
The system took shape in the 1960s and 70s as the public and politicians sounded the alarm about the environmental legacy of decades of uncontrolled industrialization. Faced with the threat of unsafe and polluted air, contaminated rivers and streams, hazardous chemicals in homes and products and toxic waste sites, Congress enacted an ambitious set of laws calling for far-reaching protections of public health and the environment. Support for these laws came from across the political spectrum and from presidents as diverse as Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.
Since 1970, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been the prime mover in translating the lofty goals of our environmental laws into concrete progress.
Thanks to many committed professionals and strong leadership at the top, EPA can take credit for impressive improvements in environmental quality.
Its accomplishments include the dramatic lowering of blood lead levels in American children, sharp declines in air pollution and an accompanying reduction in death and disease, and large reductions in harmful emissions from cars, trucks and factories.
Add to that list the cleanup of thousands of contaminated waste sites and their return to productive use, recovery of the ozone layer after years of depletion, and restoration of numerous water bodies previously too polluted for fishing and recreation.
Many Americans take these environmental gains for granted, forgetting that they did not occur by chance but resulted from the hard work of a dedicated agency that insisted on results, refused to cut corners, and held polluters accountable if they violated the law. Our environment is far from perfect, but a resolute EPA has enabled the US to avoid the rampant environmental degradation that is endangering the health and well-being of hundreds of millions of people around the globe.
Now, however, EPA’s credibility, professionalism, and independence are facing a serious threat from the Trump Administration and its EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt. EPA has faced many challenges over its nearly 50-year history, but the president and Administrator Pruitt are putting at risk its effectiveness and even its survival to an extent that is unprecedented.
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