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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

By Victoria Advocate
June 27, 2012 at 1:27 a.m.


Thank You EPA

In 1962, Silent Spring, by Rachael Carson, was published. The book documented the effects of pesticides on the environment, particularly on birds. Carson accused the chemical industry of spreading lies, and public officials of accepting industry claims without using critical scientific standards or methods, to evaluate the evidence. Led by Monsanto, Velsicol, and American Cyanamid, along with the Agriculture Department, as well as many in the media, both her credentials and her gender were ridiculed. Scare tactics about going back to the dark ages were the norm.

Aug. 1969: Cleveland's Cuyahoga River and the Detroit River erupted in flames. According to Time magazine, using rivers flowing through major cities as convenient free sewers was the main culprit. Globs of oil, multicolored industrial discharges, the flotsam from shoreline cities, as well as fecal and bacterial discharge were killing the rivers and endangering the Great Lakes.

In 1970, Richard M. Nixon proposed an agency of the Federal government be created to be called The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress.

In 1972 the Clean water Act was passed and the United States and Canada established water pollution limits in an International Water Quality Agreement. It took several decades to take effect; but by 1999, there were signs that large numbers of mayflies were spotted on the lake after a forty-year absence signaling a return to health.

Since the founding of the EPA there has been a great increase in water quality, the return of economically important fish species, as well as other biological life. By 1979, new controls substantially reduced levels of DDT in the water Cleanup efforts were described as a notable environmental success; the cumulative effects of legislation, scientific studies, and bans had reversed the effects of pollution.

Then a tiny hamlet in upstate New York called Love Canal made the news. Quite simply, Love Canal was and is one of the most appalling environmental tragedies in American

During the 1920s the canal was turned into a municipal and industrial chemical dumpsite. In 1953, the Hooker Chemical Company, the owners and operators of the property, covered the canal with earth and sold it for one dollar.

A 1978 EPA Journal article warned about this "ticking time bomb" subsequently on the first day of August, 1978, a lead story in the New York Times read: "NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y." Twenty five years after the Hooker Chemical Company stopped using Love Canal as an industrial dump," chemicals started percolating upward through the soil, leaching their contents into the backyards and basements of 100 homes and a public school built on the banks of the canal. Shortly after the leaching began various carcinogens were identified. . Trees and gardens turned black and died. Everywhere the air had a faint, choking smell. Children returned from play with burns on their hands and faces. Then there were the birth defects.

In 1980 as a direct response to Love Canal, the Superfund a name given to the environmental program established to address abandoned hazardous waste sites and to be administered by the EPA was signed into law by Jimmy Carter.

Since the environmental movement of the 1970s and '80s, the nature of environmental issues has changed; newer issues are long-term problems that are not easily discernible and can be surrounded by controversy.

Yet, not until President Obama came into office that a fresh push for environmental regulation came to the forefront. Leading the charge is the EPA; and once again chemical/energy industry continues to push back against environmental regulations and science. Once again scare tactics are being used; claiming regulation will kill jobs, energy, and our future.

All that stands between us another environmental disaster is the EPA. Thank you EPA.

Irene Solnik

Bay City

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