Commentary

Environmental Protection Agency: Why the EPA Was Created | Time.com

The Cuyahoga River burst into flames, while the Potomac stunk from the hundreds of millions of gallons of waste added to its waters every single day.

As the Environmental Protection Agency becomes the subject of focus for major cuts under President Trump’s proposed budget — and as the U.N. marks World Water Day on Wednesday — it’s worth looking back at the moment in time when the EPA was first created, and why Richard Nixon saw a need for the agency to exist.

Dirty water was only one ingredient. At the close of the 1960s, the United States could not escape the fact of, as TIME put it in 1968, “the relentless degradations of a once virgin continent.” The evidence was right in front of citizens’ faces. Pollution had gotten bad enough to be undeniable, and science had become advanced enough to make the reasons why clear. In 1963, smog had killed 400 New Yorkers, and Lake Erie’s oxygen content had become so depleted that the center of the lake sustained precious little life. An oil spill off the California coast in 1969 coated 400 square miles with slime and killed hundreds of birds. Scientists announced that auto exhaust was at high enough levels in some places that it could cause birth defects. The city of St. Louis smelled, as one resident put it, “like an old-fashioned drugstore on fire.”

read full article at Time: Environmental Protection Agency: Why the EPA Was Created | Time.com

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