America Before The Environmental Protection Agency


America Before The Environmental Protection Agency

America Before The Environmental Protection Agency
America Before The Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, is an agency part of the Federal government of the United States and which aims at protecting human health, as well as the environment, by writing down and then enforcing regulations to that end.

But as you can imagine, the Environmental Protection Agency didn’t exist since the time of the Founding Fathers. In fact, people only relatively recently began caring about the environment, and it was an uphill battle and one that still goes on. To be fair, though, the small number of people back in the day and the huge size of the world, never made the environment seem like it needed protection in the first place. Things have changed since then, however.

Donora Smog Disaster 1948

The first incident that eventually led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency was the Donora Smog Disaster that took place in October 1948. Here, a somewhat rare meteorological phenomenon, coupled with the toxic fumes coming from the many factories in the town of Donora, Pensylvania, resulted in the death of 20 people, as well as 6,000 people becoming seriously ill. In the wake of the disaster, the government enacted the Clean Air Act, which was the first step towards the EPA.

But as it is with politics and people, things are slow to change in a meaningful way, and only in 1970 under president Richard Nixon, did the Environmental Protection Agency did come into existence. By this time, and because of the lack of any regulation, many rivers, streams and lakes in the country became unsafe for swimming or fishing. Air pollution was also rampant, and one couldn’t even see New York’s iconic landmarks.

Today, in the light of the current government looking at dismantling the EPA, or at least cutting its budget by two-thirds, we will show you how the US looked like in the first half of the 1970’s when it was okay to leave “a little bit” of the environment, but not at the expense of businesses.


The Atlas Chemical Company Belches Smoke across Pasture Land in Foreground. 06/1972
Smog Hangs Over Louisville And Ohio River, September 1972
Abandoned Car in Jamaica Bay 06/1973
Sand Covers Abandoned Car on Beach at Breezy Point South of Jamaica Bay 05/1973
Warning of Polluted Water at Staten Island Beach Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Background 06/1973
International Paper Company Mill at Jay on the Androscoggin River 06/1973
Mills of the Brown Paper Company in Berlin, on the Androscoggin River 06/1973
Outflow Pipe 6 of the Oxford Paper Company Will at Rumford on the Androscoggin River 06/1973
Oxford Paper Company 06/1973
The George Washington Bridge in Heavy Smog. View toward the New Jersey Side of the Hudson River1973
Cleaning Up the Roadside in Onset 05/1973
“Out of Gas” Signs Have Cropped Up All over the Portland Area Since the Start of the Fuel Shortage 06/1973
Billboard Advising Passing Motorists of the Seriousness of the Energy Shortage in Oregon During the Fall of 1973. Taken on Interstate #5 09/1973
Broken Glass From “No-Deposit, Non-Returnable” Bottles Along the Washington Shore of the Columbia River in a Public Picnic Area. Such Bottles Are Illegal Across the River in the State of Oregon 04/1973
Detroit Lake the Dam 09/1973
Posted Highway Sign Along Interstate #5 Explains Lack of Highway Lighting Is Due to Energy Conservation 11/1973
Sign Posted in a Doorway Entrance to a Restaurant Explaining Shorter Hours Due to the Fall of 1973 Energy Crisis in Oregon. The Business Was Located Along Interstate #5 10/1973
Mary Workman Holds A Jar of Undrinkable Water That Comes from Her Well, and Has Filed A Damage Suit Against the Hanna Coal Company … 10/1973


Closeup of a Sign at One of Several Service Stations That Advertise Tuneups to Pass Emission and Safety Tests…08/1975
Happy Young Woman with a Bumper Sticker Which Reports She Had Successfully Passed Testing at an Auto Emission Inspection Station in Downtown Cincinnati, Ohio…09/1975
Paddlewheel Steamboats Seen From Banks Of Ohio River, May 1972
Smog Lingers Over Louisville Skyline, September 1972
The Job Of Clearing Drift From The Potomac And Anacostia Rivers Is Done By The Army Corps Of Engineers, April 1973
The Pepco (Potomac Electric Power Company) Power Plant At The Anacostia River, April 1973
Burning Barge On The Ohio River, May 1972