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Earth Day 2012

Earth Day and EPA History - The First Earth Day in April 1970

It may be hard to imagine that before 1970, a factory could spew black clouds of toxic into the air or dump tons of toxic waste into a nearby stream, and that was perfectly legal. They could not be taken to court to stop it.

How was that possible? Because there was no EPA, no Clean Air Act, no Clean Water Act. There were no legal or regulatory mechanisms to protect our environment.

Former EPA Administrator William K. Reilly with Earth Day founder Senator Gaylord Nelson on Earth Day 1990.

In Spring 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day as a way to force this issue onto the national agenda. 20 million Americans demonstrated in different U.S. cities, and it worked!

In December 1970, Congress authorized the creation of a new federal agency to tackle environmental issues, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency..

More about Sen. Nelson and the history of Earth Day Exit EPA Disclaimer

Over 42 years of protecting health and the environment

In 1970, President Richard Nixon and Congress established the U.S. EPA in response to the growing public demand for cleaner water, air and land. EPA was tasked with the challenging goal of repairing the damage already done to the environment and to establish guidelines to help Americans in making a cleanerand saferenvironment a reality.