Editorial: Earth Day, EPA deserve credit for clean-up

By on April 22, 2010

There is certainly an ongoing debate on the concept of climate change, but one thing that all sides of the debate can agree on is that the 40th anniversary of Earth Day is important, and needs to be recognized.

Prior to 1970, the public began to demand cleaner air, water, and land. A few months after Earth Day that year, President Richard Nixon in Congress moved to establish the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and the first Earth Day was recognized.

That year proved pivotal in transforming the nation from one that demontrated a lack of care for the environment to one in which recycling is the norm and not the exception, people can trust their drinking water, and air quality is vastly superior compared to back then.

The EPA led to an amendment to the Clean Air Act, setting national air quality, auto emission and anti-pollution standards.

The Safe Drinking Water Act allowed the EPA to set standards for the quality of public drinking water. Money was set aside to clean up hazardous waste sites.

Just about any interaction with the environment is now safer due to the EPA, and public awareness about the environment is certainly heightened because of Earth Day.

No one can dispute that these are vital improvements that have touched our daily lives and improved and prolonged the lives of millions Americans and millions more to come.

Yes, there is a debate about climate change and if human activity has any impact on it. The EPA website certainly places the organization on one side of that debate.

“Beginning late in the 18th century, human activities associated with the Industrial Revolution have also changed the composition of the atmosphere and therefore very likely are influencing the Earth’s climate,” its site states.

With the climate change debate and a growing distrust in the federal government serving as context, it is reasonable to conclude that many people may now place less value on the EPA and what it has accomplished.

We hope that all people, regardless of their stance toward the federal government in general and the climate change debate specifically, can look past the political polarization of the day and recognize the EPA and its accomplishments, and think about how it has helped you and your family, and take a moment to think about the planet and its environment.

Regardless of whether or not you believe man is causing the globe’s climate to change, it is hard to imagine anyone wanting to return to the days where paint was full of lead, rivers were full of waste, and the air was full of pollution.