Thank You, USEPA!
Reflecting on the 47 years that you have served in protecting America’s environment, it seems appropriate that we, your clients and beneficiaries, give thanks both for the foundation on which you were created and for the specific benefits you have conferred on all Americans.
You were born as a result of intense public angst over sewage-polluted waterways, threatened drinking water supplies, open landfills, oil spills, fish kills, acid rain, industrial waste residues, and the virtually unchecked ravaging of America’s forests and streams following World War II. It took legislators more than a decade, but nationwide concerns ultimately culminated in the bipartisan National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, thanks largely to the efforts of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, later the recipient of the National Medal of Honor in 1995.
As a result of NEPA, in 1970, (also the year of Senator Nelson’s first ‘Earth Day’ when 20 million Americans rallied), you were formally created to defend our nation against those assaults that could significantly impair our nation’s water, air, and land. You would also be called on to protect our endangered wildlife species and to guard the health of all Americans against the improper use and land disposal of toxic chemicals and hazardous materials.
In retrospect, it is remarkable to think that such protections were not already in place in a civilized, first-world, prosperous, mid-twentieth-century nation.
All grateful Americans, who recognize that we and our families now enjoy higher standards of living and health, thank you for the benefits you have bestowed to the nation.
So, what did USEPA accomplish over the past 47 years?