EPA at 50 - From “Silent Spring” to Today
“The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today
for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard” Gaylord Nelson.
A vast majority of Mainers did not experience the dawn of the modern-day environmental movement in the United States in the decades of the 50s and 60s, that were championed by Senator Nelson and Maine's own Edmund Muskie, but all have most assuredly benefited from its focus on public health and general natural resource protection and/or remediation.
The resulting legislation did not come easy as there was much resistance to ceding power to the federal government over state's rights, and the nation was in the midst of considerable growth. At the same time, environmental regulation was often seen as a growth deterrent and a factor affecting America's competitiveness with other worldwide economies.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created in 1970 as a unique partnership of federal and state resources to address numerous issues broadly related to clean air, water and solid waste disposal. It was built upon prior efforts of predecessor agencies like the United States Public Health Service, Federal Water Pollution Control Agency and The Departments of Agriculture, and the Geological Survey. These agencies included expertise in hydrology, atmospheric science, farming, forestry, and earth sciences and serve as EPA's core of expertise in many environmental areas.
Rachel Carson's iconic “Silent Spring: energized public pressure to pass seminal legislation and the EPA. Earth Day turns 50 on April 22, 2020.
Raymond C. Whittemore
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