This is what America looked like before the national regulation of pollution
Sunday - 08/10/2017 22:25
THESE startling 1970s pictures were collected to show the effect modern industrial life was having on the American landscape.
AS THE United Stated emerged from the hedonism and social upheaval of the 1960s it became increasingly apparent that the rapid development of industrial capitalism was taking a serious toll on the environment.
As people called for action, the environmental movement gained momentum and a federal government agency was created to co-ordinate a national approach to curtailing the effects of pollution and environmental degradation. Thus the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was born.
In November 1971, the newly created government body announced a massive photo documentary project, called DOCUMERICA, to record the adverse effects of modern industrial life on the environment.
Many of the photos produced for the project offered a glimpse into everyday life in America in the 1970s while others specifically focused on environmental issues faced at the time and depict the visible stains of pollution on the American landscape.
A few years ago the US National Archives digitised more than 15,000 of the nearly 80,000 photos produced for the series, and thanks to some trying times for the EPA under the current administration, they’re being shared online with renewed vigour this week.
During a debate in March last year for the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump promised to dismantle the EPA.
“We are going to get rid of it in almost every form,” he said. “We’re going to have little tidbits left, but we’re going to take a tremendous amount out.”
When he later went on to take the White House, he installed former Oklahoma Attorney-General and noted climate sceptic Scott Pruitt to head up the EPA.
The appointment of Mr Pruitt was hugely controversial, not least because he has previously tried to sue the agency 14 times.
Under Mr Pruitt, the EPA has already reversed a ban on the use of a pesticide that can harm children’s brains and moved to rescind the Clean Water Rule, which clarified the Clean Water Act to prohibit industries from dumping pollutants into streams and wetlands.
This morning, the Associated Press reported that Donald Trump is planning to roll back the centrepiece of President Barack Obama’s efforts to slow global warming, seeking to ease restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.
In a plan expected to be made public in the coming days, the Environmental Protection Agency will declare the Obama-era rule exceeded federal law by setting emissions standards that power plants could not reasonably meet.
The expected move would be in keeping with Mr Trump’s campaign rhetoric. Throughout his ascent to the Oval Office he vowed to revive the coal industry and its jobs.
A former EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, says repealing the rule without a timeline or a commitment to reduce carbon pollution is a “wholesale retreat” from the EPA’s obligations to deal with climate change, the AP reported.
The EPA won’t prescribe an immediate replacement to the plan, but will seek public comment on whether to curb climate-warming emissions from coal and natural gas power plants.
“Any replacement rule that the Trump administration proposes will be done carefully and properly within the confines of the law,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said.
Donald Trump has previously pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord signed by nearly 200 countries which have committed to combat global warming by reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.