Rothman 5

Environmental regulation expanded rapidly after 1960
reasons for government regulation
Earth Day 19703
First Earth day: 1970
National Environmental Policy Act passed 1969 signed Jan. 1, 1970
If a technology is possible is it inevitable it will be developed
Congress stopped funding for the Supersonic Transport (SST) in 1970
Boeing SST
proposed US SST

in the SST case the environmental concerns of the public stopped progress

Also in 1970, creation of the Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA)
dirty water pouring
              into a streamKey example of a new law: Endangered Species Act of 1973
  • there were already lists of endangered species
  • Fish and Wildlife Service would evaluate what species were in danger
  • Endangered species act gave stronger protection:
    • people aren't allowed to hunt them
    • people are prohibited from damaging those species defined as endangered
    • you can't build things even on private property that would threaten the species
  • Tellico Dam and the snail darter (a small fish)
  • people tend to be concerned only with charismatic megafauna
  • didn't protect ecosystems but rather you might have to save the ecosystem so the animal wouldn't go extinct
  • is this the best kind of law to protect the environment?  It is the kind most likely to get public support
but enforcing it proved more difficult
  • previous pollution laws had left enforcement to the states
  • Water Pollution Control Act of 1948 put responsibility on local government, Clean Water Act of 1960 was similar.
  • Even the Clean Air Act of 1963 let the states decide when to act
  • Endangered Species Act was enforced by the Fish and Wildlife Service
What do you need to do to have an effective law that sets limits on chemicals released into the air or water?
Public support began to divide as environmental regulations become more widespread
Limits of public concern for environmental regulation are already coming clear

cars lined up to buy gas
OPEC oil embargo of 1973
Late 1970s debates over environmental issues

This page written and copyright Pamela E. Mack
Hist 124
last updated 4/9/10