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Sun Apr 22, 2012, 12:26 PM

Earth Day: "Once upon a time in the US..."

"Once upon a time in the US..." or, how far our priorities have shifted.

Wiki has a pretty good write-up on this as it's not too controversial.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)


NEPA came into existence following increased appreciation for the environment, and growing concerns about ecological and wildlife well-being; indeed, the public outcry after the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill was perhaps the leading catalyst. An Eisenhower-era Outdoor Recreation report, a Wilderness Act, Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, along with Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring, all reflect the growing concerns, public interest group efforts, and legislative discussion involved.[4] Another major driver for enacting NEPA were the freeway revolts that occurred in response to the bulldozing of many communities and ecosystems around the country as the Interstate Highway System was being built during the 1960s. The law has since been applied to any project, federal, state or local, that involves federal funding, work performed by the federal government, or permits issued by a federal agency. Court decisions throughout the law's history have expanded the requirement for NEPA-related environmental studies to include actions where permits from a federal agency are required, regardless of whether or not federal funds are spent implementing the action. Although enacted on January 1, 1970, its "short title" is "National Environmental Policy Act of 1969."


The preamble reads:

"To declare national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man; to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the Nation..." (emphasis added)

Imagine my surprise when I read the:

Legislative history

- Introduced in the Senate as S. 1075 by Henry M. Jackson on February 18, 1969
- Committee consideration by: Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs
- Passed the Senate on July 10, 1969 (Unanimous)
- Passed the House of Representatives on September 23, 1969 (372-15)

- Reported by the joint conference committee on December 17, 1969; agreed to by the Senate on December 20, 1969 () and by the House of Representatives on December 23, 1969 ()
- Signed into law by President Richard Nixon on January 1, 1970 (emphasis added)

Or when I read that Nixon "expanded" the mandate of the CEQ and placed it "within the executive office":

Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)

The CEQ was modeled after the Council of Economic Advisers created by the employment act of 1946. Shortly after the act was signed into law, President Nixon expanded the CEQ's mandate by Executive Order directing it to issue guidelines to federal agencies for the proper preparation of Environmental Impact Statements and to assemble and coordinate federal programs related to environmental quality. The Council was placed within the executive office of the President and is composed of three members. These members must be appointed by the president and subsequently confirmed by the Senate. The CEQ has some fundamental roles which include assisting and advising the President in the preparation of the annual environmental quality report on the present progress of federal agencies in implementing the act, on national policies to nurture and promote the improvement of environmental quality and on the current state of the environment. (emphasis added)

Nixon was hardly an environmentalist. He was however, president during a time the US population appeared unified in its concern about the human impact on the environment. He was also president during a time in which the president was considered to be the president of the US; not just the president of the "red" or "blue" parts of the US.

Then I went on to read about the Freeway Revolts that contributed to the passage of NEPA and helps to show the sentiment of the people of the US and around the world during that time.

I have less faith in the freeway revolts wiki as it seems to have some opinion wandering around as fact. I include it, however, as you can follow the link and scroll to your state and read about how it impacted the freeway system there.

How far we've moved from those ideals in a short 43 years. How polarized we've become in that same short time frame.

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Reply Earth Day: "Once upon a time in the US..." (Original post)
Cerridwen Apr 2012 OP
hootinholler Apr 2012 #1
Egalitarian Thug Apr 2012 #2

Response to Cerridwen (Original post)

Sun Apr 22, 2012, 12:43 PM

1. It was also a time when the damage to the environment was obvious

I doubt there was anyone in the US who couldn't travel a short distance and see the devastation in an obvious way, like sulfur creeks or other dumps.

DDT had recently been identified as the cause of the decline and endangerment of the Bald Eagle.

These things are not so obvious anymore. Pollutants are no longer clouding our water and our air, but they are still there and are still big problems.

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Response to Cerridwen (Original post)

Sun Apr 22, 2012, 04:17 PM

2. And have we fallen so far, so quickly?


Of course we have, the question has become either irony or rhetoric, yet still we have persons that call themselves Democrats today that are arguing, in addition to relaxing the nearly non-existent standards we have left, but to bring DDT back.

"Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." - H.L. Mencken

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