April 22, 1970 – The First “Earth Day” Was Established

On this day in history, Earth Day was first observed with the goal of bringing awareness to growing ecological concerns and helping to bring political pressure to bear on environmental issues. An estimated 20 million people attended inaugural events across the U.S. The day was promoted tirelessly by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who had been attempting to bring his colleagues on board since 1963.

Fundraising and awareness ad for Earth Day published in the New York Times on January 18, 1970.

Fundraising and awareness ad for Earth Day published in the New York Times on January 18, 1970.

Congress went on to make the 1970s the “Environmental Decade” by establishing the bulk of today’s environmental regulatory authority through the passage of 28 pieces of legislation, including the Endangered Species Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and amendments strengthening the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Air and Water Acts. In December 1970, Congress authorized the creation of a new federal agency to oversee environmental issues, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Postage Stamp block issued in October, 1970

Postage Stamp block issued in October, 1970

Today, as climate change accelerates, there are many movements to repair ecological devastation, as well as sources for information still associated with Earth Day, such as The Earth Day Network. You can visit their website here.

On the other hand, today, the recognition of climate change and the regulations pursuant to helping prevent it are in increasing jeopardy. As The New York Times reports:

Since taking office last year, President Trump has made eliminating federal regulations a priority. His administration — with help from Republicans in Congress — has often targeted environmental rules it sees as overly burdensome to the fossil fuel industry, including major Obama-era policies aimed at fighting climate change.”

As of January 31, 2018:

. . . the Trump administration has sought to reverse more than 60 environmental rules, according to a New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law School’s Environmental Regulation Rollback Tracker, Columbia Law School’s Climate Tracker and other sources.”

You can see the list here.


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