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Environmental Law History Timeline
Transcript of Environmental Law History Timeline
Yellowstone the first national park "dedicated and
set apart as a public park or pleasuring ground for
the benefit and enjoyment of the people" and "for the
preservation, from injury or spoliation, of all timber, mineral deposits, natural curiosities, or wonders.
. . and their retention in their natural condition." 1916 Congress established the National Park Service.
Today there are approximately 400 national parks
across America, comprising approximately 4% of
the entire U.S., or 84.6 billion acres of preserved
land. 1926 Salt Lake City was the first U.S. city to conduct
a large scale survey of air pollution. 1935 Congress passed the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act in an effort to control Dust Bowl storms, erosion, land use and conservation. Over 100,000,000 acres of U.S. prairie land were affected by the Dust Bowl. The catastrophe inspired the largest migration of Americans in U.S. history, as 2.5 million Dust Bowl refugees moved away from the prairie. 1940 Congress passed the Bald Eagle Preservation Act to prevent the extinction of the national symbol. The bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list in 2007. 1962 Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, which warned about the dangers of pesticides, especially DDT, to water supplies and wildlife. The federal government outlawed the use of pesticides like DDT several years later. 1963 Congress passed the first Clean Air Act, which regulated air pollution and emissions. 1964 Congress passed the Wilderness Act, establishing the National Wilderness Preservation System to “secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.” By 2001, there were 90 million acres of preserved wilderness in the U.S. 1965 President Johnson signed the Water Quality Act to strengthen federal water pollution laws and outline water quality guidelines for states. 1968 The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act passed by Congress and President Johnson to protect waterways from pollution, commercialization, and development. 1968 NASA released the “Blue Marble” photo of earth from space, giving Americans a first ‘outside’ look at their planet. The photo helped raise awareness of environmental issues. 1969 The National Environmental Policy Act was one of the first laws to establish the broad national framework for protecting the environment. The Act demanded that all branches of government give proper consideration to the environment prior to building airports, buildings, military complexes, highways, parks, and other activities. 1970 The Environmental Protection Agency was established to “create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony.” 1970 The first Earth Day was celebrated by 20 million people across the country. Earth Day was first organized by Gaylord Nelson, a former Wisconsin senator, and Denis Hayes, a Harvard graduate student. Today, Earth Day is celebrated annually around the world. 1971 The Ad Council and Keep America Beautiful first aired the “Crying Indian” commercial on nationwide television, inspiring popular interest in the environment. 1973 Congress passed the Endangered Species Act to protect what are now known as Endangered Species from possible extinction. 1974 Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act to be administered by the EPA, protecting Americans from contaminated drinking water. The EPA still regulates public drinking water as a result of the act. 1987 Long Island garbage barge, Mobro 4000, began a 6,000 mile journey up and down the East Coast, looking for a dumping place. The barge became a popular icon representing the mounting waste crisis in America, but in reality, the barge was simply a victim of circumstance, caught up in legal red tape
preventing any city from allowing it to dock.