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Mon Jan 9, 2012, 01:29 AM

Grist/Photos: What America looked like before the EPA

[h2]Photos: What America looked like before the EPA[/h2]

In 1972, the year-old EPA had photographers traverse the country to document the (often dire) state of the environment. This project, Documerica, was "the visual echo of the mission of the EPA," according to one photographer. Now, 40 years later, archive specialist Jerry Simmons has unearthed the photos and put them online at the National Archives website and on Flickr. It's a time capsule of life before the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

Some of the photos show positive action -- a "city farmer" in Boston, for instance, or a guy riding his bike to sidestep fuel shortages. Some record daily life, and some of them show that even without federal protection, a lot of America is still pretty beautiful. And the rest ... look like this. (Click the photos for more information.)

Read full article at: http://www.grist.org/list/2012-01-05-photos-what-america-looked-like-before-the-epa

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Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Mon Jan 9, 2012, 01:32 AM

1. So much for Ron Paul's looneytarian utopia

What Ron Paul fans refuse to realize is most government regulation was written for a damn good reason.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 9, 2012, 03:35 AM

4. Yep. But we'd boycott the polluters! Clearly.

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Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Mon Jan 9, 2012, 01:53 AM

2. I remember, back in the late '60s, playing in some fields in suburban Los Angeles. . .

Large concrete pits dotted the land, filled with a shimmering greenish-yellow oil. There were no fences around the pits and I've no idea if there was a bottom to keep the slime from leaching into the soil. We used to throw rocks into the ooze. I remember it as very viscous.

It was great growing up in L.A. A lot of fun things to do, a lot of great weather. But there are some aspects I'd rather not wax nostalgic upon.

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Response to Journeyman (Reply #2)

Mon Jan 9, 2012, 03:52 AM

6. And the LA smog would burn my eyes when I made frequent visits in the early 70's

 

Clean air laws have really made a difference. LA air is not nearly as bad as it used to be.

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Response to cpwm17 (Reply #6)

Mon Jan 9, 2012, 04:16 AM

7. I was going to add that to my original post, but got called away from my keyboard. . .

Yes, the sulfur content of the smog was much greater in the '60s and early '70s, so our eyes would sting and at times it hurt to breathe -- a sharp, slicing sensation in the lungs. It's considerably different today. Still can't see the mountains most days, and there are still times when kids are cautioned about playing outdoors, but there's a world of difference between the L.A. in which my children grew-up and the Southland of my youth.

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Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Mon Jan 9, 2012, 03:25 AM

3. The Cuyahoga River was so polluted, it caught on fire in 1969.

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Response to MilesColtrane (Reply #3)

Mon Jan 9, 2012, 03:36 AM

5. That's crazy! Utter madness! And that was acceptable! My god!

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #5)

Mon Jan 9, 2012, 04:20 AM

8. Randy Newman, "Burn On (Big River)". . .




There's a red moon rising
On the Cuyahoga River
Rolling into Cleveland to the lake

There's a red moon rising
ON the Cuyahoga River
Rolling into Cleveland to the lake

There's an oil barge winding
Down the Cuyahoga River
Rolling into Cleveland to the lake

There's an oil barge winding
Down the Cuyahoga River
Rolling into Cleveland to the lake

Cleveland city of light city of magic
Cleveland city of light you're calling me
Cleveland, even now I can remember
'Cause the Cuyahoga River
Goes smokin' through my dreams

Burn on, big river, burn on
Burn on, big river, burn on
Now the Lord can make you tumble
And the Lord can make you turn
And the Lord can make you overflow
But the Lord can't make you burn

Burn on, big river, burn on
Burn on, big river, burn on

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Response to MilesColtrane (Reply #3)

Mon Jan 9, 2012, 04:33 AM

9. First thing that came to my mind, too. Here's another fine song about it:



Let's put our heads together and start a new country up
Our father's father's father tried, erased the parts he didn't like
Let's try to fill it in, bank the quarry river, swim
We knee-skinned it you and me, we knee-skinned that river red

This is where we walked, this is where we swam
Take a picture here, take a souvenir

This land is the land of ours, this river runs red over it
We knee-skinned it you and me, we knee-skinned that river red
And we gathered up our friends, bank the quarry river, swim
We knee-skinned it you and me, underneath the river bed

This is where we walked, this is where we swam
Take a picture here, take a souvenir
Cuyahoga
Cuyahoga, gone

Let's put our heads together, start a new country up,
Underneath the river bed we burned the river down.
This is where they walked, swam, hunted, danced and sang,
Take a picture here, take a souvenir
Cuyahoga
Cuyahoga, gone

Rewrite the book and rule the pages, saving face, secured in faith
Bury, burn the waste behind you

This land is the land of ours, this river runs red over it
We are not your allies, we can not defend
This is where they walked, this is where they swam
Take a picture here, take a souvenir

Cuyahoga
Cuyahoga, gone
Cuyahoga
Cuyahoga, gone

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Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Mon Jan 9, 2012, 10:05 AM

10. Looks like libertarian paradise to me

This is the good ole days the Rethugs long for. Add some "whites only" signs and you've got it.

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Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Mon Jan 9, 2012, 10:31 AM

11. I live not too far from the Newtown Creek...

 

...in North Brooklyn.
This is the site of the second largest oil spill in the United States, after the BP Gulf spill, and a Superfund site.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newtown_Creek

I remember it from when I was a kid and we called it the Stinky River.
There's a waterfront park there now in Greenpoint, and it doesn't stink.
I wouldn't want to swim in it, although I have seen people do that.

I can only imagine what it would be like now, 40 years later, without the EPA, and other environmental efforts...

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Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Mon Jan 9, 2012, 10:49 PM

12. I grew up in a small town along an idyllic-looking creek in PA ...

... known as "Beech Creek" (both the town and the creek). Beech Creek's (the actual creek) headwaters are located deep in the Allegheny highlands of PA. As the stream courses its way through mountains and down into the Bald Eagle Valley, and finally emptying into Bald Eagle Creek just below the town of Beech Creek, it passes through, and creates with its own passing, some of the most picturesque scenery imaginable. It's waters are crystal clear, albeit with an odd, reddish cast that stains its rocky creek bed.

That reddish color is the result of sulfuric acid runoff that fouled the water over 50 years ago, when unregulated strip mining was permitted in the Alleghenies. There have been numerous attempts in my lifetime (I'm 50) to try to clean up the creek, but they have all met with very limited success. When I was a kid, absolutely NOTHING lived in the creek. Today, there are one or two species of particularly hardy fish that can tolerate its waters, but they certainly are not fish you'd ever want your kids to eat.

Oh, and where do these fouled waters finally wind up? Well, Beech Creek empties into Bald Eagle Creek, which empties into the Susquehanna River near the town of Lock Haven, PA, which in turn empties into the northern end of the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland crab, anyone?

Not long ago, my brother, who still lives in the town, was driving past a particularly scenic section of the creek, when he saw two men apparently making an attempt at fly fishing. He said he didn't have the heart to tell them they were wasting their time.

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