The Environmental Movement

Earth, Wind, and Fire

Consumers in Nature

  1920s rise in camping, sport hunting, and fishing

          Cars, better roads, more leisure & money

                  RVs and campers

                  Johnson outboard motor

                  Coleman lantern & stove

Foundation for Environmentalism

  CCC’s legacy: support for conservation

  1950s: Growing interest in preserving nature

          Skyrocketing attendance of national parks

          Nature writing: frequent bestsellers in 1950s

Dams: The “Go-Go Years”

  Colorado River Compact, 1922

  Bureau of Reclamation: Colorado River Storage Project, 1950

          10 dams — $1,000,000,000

          Progressive motives: growth of Southwest foreseen

          2 dams in Dinosaur National Monument

                  Created 1915, expanded 1938

                  Test case

                            Threatened logging of Olympic peninsula
                            Dams in Glacier, Grand Canyon, Kings Canyon, Adirondacks?

Conservation Gets Political

  Dinosaur: battle for congressional funding

          100% support of Western Congressmen

                  Control irrigation & reclamation subcommittees

          Sierra Club, Wilderness Society lead resistance

                  David Brower, Howard Zahniser

                  Publicity blitz: articles in major newspapers and magazines

                  New tactic: scientific argument: bad place for a dam

          Dam deleted from 1956 bill; last proposed park dam

Dinosaur’s high price

  Glen Canyon dam

          Brower: The Place No One Knew (1963)

The Wilderness Act

  Quandary of permanent protection

          Congress, Forest Svc., Dept. of Agriculture?

  Howard Zahniser, evangelist for wilderness

          Begins after 1956 defeat of Echo Park dam

          Proposed extensive system: 60 million acres

          Bitterly fought by development interests

          Passed 1964: 9 million acres

  Triumph of passage

          Wilderness system expanded since (now 109 million acres)

More Dam Battles

  Floyd Dominy’s Pacific Southwest Water Plan

          2 Grand Canyon dams: 93 & 53 miles long

          Hearings 1965–6; administration supports

          Brower’s Sierra Club ads in NY Times & Washington Post

          IRS revokes tax-exempt status

                  Membership: 1966 39,000; 1971 135,000

          Club movie, book Time and River Flowing

          1967 dams withdrawn

Impact of Silent Spring, 1962

  Failure to regulate or properly use pesticides

  First discussion of cancer danger

          Emblematic of new ideas of health and disease

  Four themes—all themes of environmentalism

          Parallel between nuclear radiation & chemical pollutants

          Pesticides as symptom of several modern fallacies

          Replace chemical w/biological & natural controls

          Focus on environmental dangers to health

  Galvanized action

          6 most toxic banned or restricted, pesticides regulated

Skyrocketing  membership

  National Wildlife Federation: largest, richest

          1970: 30% hunters; 20% opposed to all hunting

  National Audubon Society

          1965–75: 8X growth; PR & glossy magazine

  Sierra Club: Most influential & best-known

          David Brower steers club to national prominence

                  Sierra Club Books: Ansel Adams & Eliot Porter

                  Couldn’t delegate, overspent, ignored directors, lost tax-exempt status which hurt large contributions

                            Ousted 1969

                  Founded Friends of the Earth, John Muir Institute for Environmental Studies, & Earth Island Institute




Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society

  Tackling education, poverty, racism, pollution, 1964–69

          Lady Bird Johnson

                  Highway beautification

  Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall

          4 national parks, 6 national monuments,
8 national seashores, 9 national recreation areas, 20 national historic sites, 56 national wildlife refuges

          Key role in environmental legislation

          The Quiet Crisis, 1963

Cleaning up the water

  New Deal: construction of thousands of water treatment plants

  Congressional hearings, ’63–’65

          Industry & states: no damper on growth

  Water Quality Act of 1965

          First federal water pollution control agency: Water Pollution Control Administration

                  Set standards in states that had no letter of intent to do so

                  Grants for waste treatment plants

  Clean Waters Act of 1966

          Allows “accidental” discharge of oil


Cleaning up the air

  Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine takes up the issue

          4-day New York City inversion, 1966: 168 deaths

  Air Quality Act of 1967

          Requires state standards, like water act


                  High-sulfur coal states prevent sulfur standards

                  Auto companies prevent pollution control on cars

Cleaning auto exhaust

  Justice Dept., 1969: auto companies conspired against pollution control devices

  Clean Air Act of 1970

          Cut auto emissions 90% by 1975

          Requires national air quality standards

Thinking Ecologically in the 1970s

  Living responsibly

          René Dubos: “Think globally; act locally”

  Energy-efficient houses

  Buying fuel-efficient automobiles

  Back to the bicycle

  Corporate environmental solutions:

          Antilittering and recycling

  Bringing back public transportation

          Amtrak, 1970


The population explosion

  Population growth as threat to wilderness and nature

          Malthusian best-sellers

                  Fairfield Osborn, Our Plundered Planet, 1948

                  William Vogt, Road to Survival

                            Director of Planned Parenthood, 1949

  Sierra Club supports population control, 1965

  David Brower asks Paul Ehrlich to write book

          Stanford biology professor

          The Population Bomb, 1967

                  3 million copies: Doom!

          Sierra Club launches Zero Population Growth

A New Ecological Awareness

 Focus changes from human needs to nature

 Countercultural distrust of government & corporations

          Contradictions between ideals and society

                  Hollow materialism of suburban consumer society

                  Problems: racism, poverty, war, pollution

 Back to nature

          No plastics or chemicals

                  Natural foods, natural fibers, natural products

          New “Waldens”: the rural commune movement

          Explosion of backpacking, camping, outdoors activities


The Environmental President?

  Richard Nixon, 1969

          Positioning for re-election bid in 1972

Environmental Protection Agency

  Nixon panel recommends consolidation of conservation programs, 1970

  Complications: politics and political friends

          Agriculture Dept. keeps Forest Service

          Commerce Dept. keeps programs of NOAA

                  NOAA created 1970 for air and ocean research

          Interior loses EPA

                  Secretary of the Interior Walter Hickel a critic of Kent State

  First director: William D. Ruckelshaus

          Ability, charisma, committed staff, support of Congress & environmentalists

The EPA’s challenges

  Research & advisory roles & watchdog over 247 air quality control regions

          Review state implementation plans

          Oversee monitoring

          Penalize polluting plants & industries


          Inventory polluting industries

          Air quality standards for many pollutants

          Protect health as well as crops, plants, wildlife, soil, & water

Tightening regulation

  National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 1969

          Environmental impact statements

  Water Pollution Control Act amendments, 1972

          No discharges by 1985; latest technology required

          Billions appropriated for new construction

The toxic environment

  Workplace health

          Alice Hamilton (1869-1970)

          Occupational Health & Safety Act of 1970 (OSHA)

  Toxic chemical regulation

          Pesticides: FIFRA, 1972; herbicides added, 1978

          Chemicals: Toxic Substances Control Act, 1976

  1972 EPA mandate: list toxic chemicals, standards

          Scientific data complex, missing, contradictory

          National Resources Defense Council suits

                  Enforceable list of 65 chemicals, out of 1000s

          Industry demand variances case-by-case

                  Ties up EPA; hope for friendlier administration


Outlawing extinctions

  Endangered Species Act of 1973

          Follows acts protecting native fish & wildlife, 1966; invertebrates and threatened species, 1969; marine mammals, 1972

          Protection of “critical habitat”

Age of Limits

  1972: Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth

          Apocalypticism, doom, Malthusianism

Limits Are Here: Energy Crisis

  The First Oil Crisis

          1973 Arab-Israeli War: OPEC oil embargo

                  Shortages, inflation, high prices, recession

  Carter administration’s energy plan, 1977

          “Moral equivalent to war”

                  Reduce consumption with taxes

                  Encourage domestic energy production (coal, solar)

          55 mph speed limit; EPA fuel efficiency ratings

          Department of Energy, 1977

  Second Oil Crisis: Iranian Revolution, 1979

          Synthetic Fuels Corporation

          Solar Energy Research Institute

the “Rust Belt”

  Smokestack industry at peak, 1910

  1950s growth is less than general economy

  Deindustrialization begins by 1960

  Rapid collapse of manufacturing in 1980s

  Pollution declines but “brownfields” left behind

Toxic chemical horror stories

  Love Canal at Niagara Falls, NY , 1978

          Miscarriages, birth defects, liver ills

          Carter: national emergency; buys 240 homes

  “Valley of the Drums” in Kentucky

          17,000 leaky steel drums in open field

  Times Beach, Missouri

          Oil mixed with dioxin used on roads

          1983: town evacuated


  EPA Superfund (CERCLA) created 1980

          Mission: clean up toxic waste dumps

          Banned certain chemicals

  EPA regulates waste transport, dumping

End of Nuclear Power

  Push to develop nuclear power

  Three Mile Island incident, Penn., 1979

          Near disaster; release of some radiation

  Construction costs skyrocket

          Nuclear Regulatory Commission safety standards

          Activists fight completion of plants

  Chernobyl disaster, 1986

          100 times more radiation than Hiroshima

  No completed reactor orders since 1974