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Earth Day

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.

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

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

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

More about:
Earth Day and EPA's creation
Senator Nelson and Earth Day  Exit EPA Disclaimer

Over 40 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.

EPA's Mission
The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect human health and the environment. Since 1970, EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people.

More about EPAs 40th anniversary

More EPA history

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