April 10, 2020
Op-Ed by Denis Hayes
The Seattle Times
Author Denis Hayes was one of the organizers of the first Earth Day in 1970. The first thing to know about the beginning of Earth Day is that the big win wasn’t establishing Earth Day itself, but bringing the same organizing skills to the 1970 November elections.
“That November political triumph made clear to Congress that Earth Day had not been just a frolic in the park. One month after the 1970 election, the Clean Air Act of 1970 passed the Senate unanimously and the House with just one dissenting vote.
In short order, Congress also passed the:
• Clean Water Act
• Occupational Health and Safety Act
• Marine Mammal Protection Act
• Endangered Species Act
• Safe Drinking Water Act
• Set Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards for cars
• Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act
• Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
• Toxic Substances Control Act
• National Forest Management Act
In the 10 years following Earth Day, bold new laws changed the direction of the United States economy more profoundly than any other period in history, except perhaps the New Deal. And the New Deal was pushed by a wildly popular president whose party controlled both houses of Congress. The environmental revolution came from the grassroots up.”
Photo from University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, via flickr.com.