History In the beginning

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  • In the beginning

    • 1899 Rivers and Harbors Act, first important environmental law passed by US congress

      • Purpose was to outlaw the dumping of liquid waste (except for sewage) into navigable rivers, but wasn't enforced

    • 1948 the Water Pollution Control Act was passed (first comprehensive environmental law passed, gave power to the Department of the Interior to force water polluters to develop anti-pollution measures, also gave federal money to local governments to build sewage treatment plants)

  • The 1950s

    • In 1955 the Air Pollution Control Act was passed by congress (power was given to the Public Health Service to begin research in air pollution and give technical assistance to state and local governments

    • Federal Water Pollution Control Act passed by congress in 1956 (added more help for local governments by giving them planning and technical assistance and research and grant money for waste-treatment plants)

  • The 1960s

    • Horribly polluted Cuyahoga River near Cleveland caught fire

    • 1961 the water pollution control act of 1956 was amended to give the federal government the responsibility of enforcing the pollution laws in interstate waters and coastal areas (including the Great Lakes), also additional funds were set aside for federal construction grants

    • 1963 Clean Air Act was enacted to made provisions for federal grants to local and private agencies searching for new ways of air pollution control

      • Gave the federal government the authority to begin work on interstate air pollution

      • First law that let the federal government take some action to control air pollution from smokestacks

    • 1965 More amendments to Water Pollution Control Act

      • Congress set up the Federal Water Pollution Control Administration, which took over pollution control duties of the Public Health Administration (a part of HEW), also called for a timetable for the cleanup of interstate and coastal waters

    • 1965 Solid Waste Disposal Act

      • Designed to find better ways to dispose of solid waste and various state and local programs for the disposal of these wastes- control of funds by HEW and Department of the Interior

    • 1966 federal standards for hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide in automobile exhausts were established

      • Automakers had to start developing engines that would use unleaded gasoline

    • 1967 Clean Air Act extended federal government’s role in setting and overseeing the standards for auto emissions

    • 1967 Air Quality Act gave HEW the power to enforce air standards in severely polluted areas and states had to begin air cleanup plans or be prosecuted by the government

    • 1969 HEW formulated guidelines for maximum levels of sulfur dioxide and suspended particles coming from industrial installations

    • February 2, 1969 first law suit under the Clean Air Act

      • Filed in Baltimore, MD to close a plant that melted animal fats for industrial use- the plant violated pollution standards

    • 1969 Environmental Policy Act required every US governed agency planning a project to file an assessment of its impact on the environment

      • Most state and local planning agencies now also require an environmental impact statement

    • 1969 President Richard M. Nixon established the Environmental Quality Council (EQC) to be a cabinet-level group set up to give advice on the efforts to preserve, as Nixon said, "the availability of good air and good water, of often space and even quiet neighborhoods." Nixon was head of the group himself

    • 1969 NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) established by Congress, which attempted to formulate a national policy on environmental protection

  • The 1970s

    • Jan 1, 1970 NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) signed, which attempted to formulate a national policy on environmental protection

    • 1970 Amendments to the Clean Air Act of 1967 made to oversee standards for auto emissions and other pollutants

    • 1970 Nixon creates the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) by collecting federal environmental, scientific, and data collections to provide, “a unified approach to the problems of the oceans and the atmosphere.” (Made a part of the Department of Commerce on Oct 3)

    • EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) went through Congress July of 197- and was created by executive order on Dec 2)

      • Has power to fine polluters and shut them down

      • Can give research grants to state or local governments

    • Many more water qualities programs established

    • Programs to set environmental radiation protection standards established

    • Department of Agriculture given authority to register and regulate pesticides

    • 1971 The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a part of the division of labor, established to promote safe and healthful working conditions in all areas

      • Deal with asbestos and lead in the work place

      • Can fine employers who do not comply with regulations

    • 1971 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began enforcing the Radiation Control for Health and Safety Act of 1968

    • 1972 Noise Control Act to set standards limiting noise from devices

    • 1972 Amendments to the Water pollution Control to extend federal control to all the waters in the nation to try to make most waters, “fishable and swimmable”

    • 1972 The Environmental Pesticide Control Act required all pesticides be registered with the EPA

      • Outlaw of DDT (thanks to Rachel Carson’s research in Silent Spring)

    • 1974 Congress began postponing deadlines to EPA regulations due to the oil embargo, causing high gasoline prices and inflation

    • 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act to set nationwide standards for drinking water quality, including safety limits on bacterial and chemical content

    • 1975 EPA demands catalytic converters be put on automobiles to reduce exhaust pollution

      • Catalytic converters can eliminate 90% of harmful gases produced by cars

    • 1975 The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was organized by President Gerald R Ford to ensure civilian use of nuclear energy was not dangerous to the health and safety of the people

    • 1976 The Toxic Substances Control act gave EPA the power to control the distribution of hazardous commercial and industrial chemicals (including nuclear waste)

      • Primarily aimed at PCB’s, a group of toxic chemicals commonly used in transformers, capacitates, and gas pipeline systems

    • 1976 The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act set the first regulations for the generation, transportation, and disposal of hazardous waste

      • Did not give EPA the power to do anything, though

    • 1977 Clean Air Act amended to extend deadlines for meeting several antipollution requirements

    • 1977 Clean Water Act amended to delay getting rid of water pollution

    • 1979 Ban of CFC’s and aerosol sprays

  • The 1980s

    • 1980 Ronald Regan elected into office and not interested in environmental issues

    • 1980 Compensation and Liability Act (aka Superfund) was passed in response to many pollution disasters

      • Set aside $1.6 billion in a trust fund for emergency and long-term cleanups of hazardous waste

    • 1980-1983 the EPA’s involvement was relaxed and they did not carry out many of their duties

    • 1981 Reagan’s VP George Bush (The first) was put in charge of all government regulations

      • With this power he fired all of the Environmental Quality Council staff and cut more than 70% of their budget

      • 1/5 EPA employees had been fired with Anne Gorsuch now in charge

    • 1982 the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission banned urea-formaldehyde foam, a known cause of throat and lung irritation, found in insulation

      • 1983 this was overturned by the federal court despite its carcinogenic materials

    • By 1983 76 (mostly EPA) regulations had either been dissolved or amended, Reagan declared that regulations had to be calculated by benefits compared to costs

    • Environmental problems in the 80s: Acid rain, Sick Building Syndrome, Asbestos, Ozone, ect.

    • 1989 with George Bush as President now, he proposes amendments to the Clean Air Act to clean up the nation’s air

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