The good things
in life used
to be free
I ' S \ n\ ftimim id.it 1'iiiti t titm \>f*-1\. \

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 U.S. Environmental
 Protection Agency
 More than a century ago, an
 Indian chief named Sealth
 wrote these words in a letter to
 President Franklin Pierce:
"There is no quiet place in the
 white man's cities. No place to
 hear the leaves of spring or the
 rustle of insect's wings ... The
 white man does not seem to
 notice the air he breathes Like a
 man dying for many days, he is
 numb to the stench. What is
 man without the beasts? If all the
 beasts were gone, men would die
 from great loneliness of spirit.
 for whatever happens to the beasts also happens
 to man. All things are connected. Whatever
 befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth"
   Belatedly, Americans have come to realize the
 prophetic nature of Chief Sealth's view, and to
 look back with nostalgia at the pristine state the
 Nation once enjoyed. The relatively minor and
 localized environmental problems of the mid-
 nineteenth century have become widespread in
 our day. The growth of technology, and the
 spread of its by-products — chemicals in the air
 and water, refuse, and noise —have all aroused
 concern over the dangers of pollution to public
 health and well-being.
   To deal with these matters in a comprehen-
 sive way, the U.S. Environmental Protection
 Agency (EPA) was established on December 2,
 1970, bringing together in a single agency the
 major Federal environmental control programs.
   Creation of EPA climaxed years of increasing
 public debate over how to protect the health and
 welfare of Americans from the unwanted and
 sometimes hazardous effects of our industrial
              society, and how to preserve our
              natural systems and environ-
              mental heritage.
                During previous decades
              some notable local progress had
              been made, such as the
              pioneering work on atmospheric
              smog in California and the
              cleanup of Pittsburgh's soot-
            -  laden skies.
                But gradually we began to
              realize that local ordinances
              could no longer cope with many
            ,  problems. The publication of
              Rachael Carson's Silent Spring.
the Santa Barbara oil blowout, and the Torrey
Canyon tanker disaster had dramatized environ-
mental issues in the 1960s. Even more important
to the average man were everyday problems
such as auto exhaust fumes, unhealthy and
unsightly open dumps, untreated sewage, and
the hazards of many chemical products whose
impact on his health and welfare was unknown.
  By 1970 public agitation for new national
environmental controls was intense, reflecting
the widespread  belief that air and water and
land could no longer be used as a free dumping
ground, that no private interest had the right to
despoil the environment.
  To deal with the problem, EPA changed the
approach to a broad, national and cohesive
effort and was provided by Congress with far-
ranging powers to carry out its responsibilities.
  The Agency's mission is to control and abate
pollution in the basic areas of air, water, solid
waste, pesticides, noise and radiation. While
some of EPA's authority was contained in the
original Presidential Executive Order, Congress

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 subsequently increased this authority with the
 Clean Air Amendments and the Resource
 Recovery Act in 1970; the Federal Water
 Pollution Control Act Amendments, the Federal
 Environmental Pesticide Control Act, the Noise
 Control Act, and the Marine Protection,
 Research and Sanctuaries Act —all in 1972; and
 the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974.
  EPA administers these laws through its
 Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and ten
Regional Offices, supported by laboratories
and  field stations located across the  country.
More than 9,000 persons are employed by the
Agency, the majority of them in the field. The
Agency's annual budget exceeds $740 million.
  As an independent Agency, EPA from the
outset has used both incentives to encourage
clean-up efforts and law enforcement to curb
polluters.
  An example of how EPA supports local
pollution control is its wastewater treatment
construction grants, one of the largest Federal
programs in history. Between 1972 and the end
of Fiscal 1977 EPA will commit nearly $18
billion in Federal funds to help localities achieve
clean water, a measure that also will create
hundredsof thousands of jobs. In its air programs,
the Agency  has hundreds of scientists,
engineers and other specialists to conduct
research, measure air pollutants, and work with
State and local agencies. The solid waste
management program supports demonstration
projects in several cities to convert trash to fuel
for heating and electric power generation. And
the pesticides program is engaged in an effort
to help certify workers so that they
can apply chemicals safely on farms and ranches.
  At the same time, EPA has pursued vigorous
enforcement action against polluters. Between
its establishment in  1970 and the end of 1974
the Agency brought more than 6,200 enforce-
ment actions against violators of air, water and
pesticide pollution laws. Fines and penalties
imposed totalled more than $9 million.
  In its reports to Congress, EPA over the years
has made clear that the cost of cleaning up the


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environment will not be cheap. At the same time,
repeated public opinion surveys have shown
that Americans are willing to pay for cleaner
streams and purer air.
  In some cases, the dividends are immediately
apparent. For example, the damage of $11.2
billion annually from just two air pollutants,
sulfur oxide and particulates, is more than
double the amount  needed to control them.
Based on research and development work by
EPA, it is estimated that if the trash in our large
cities was burned as fuel, it would provide the
equivalent of 150 million barrels of oil a year.
  But many of the benefits of improving the
quality of life cannot be reduced to a simple
price tag. As EPA Administrator Russell E Train
has declared, "A longer life span, the easing of
pain from illness, the conservation of the beauty
of our land, air and water—we can only use our
best judgment in assigning dollar values to
these things!' Such benefits often are more
meaningful in the long run.
  The Nation can point to signs of progress in
the battle for a cleaner environment since EPA
was established. Monitoring data show nation-
wide declines in three air pollutants — carbon
monoxide, sulfur oxides, and particulates.
Current auto standards for carbon monoxide
and hydrocarbons represent a reduction of
nearly 85 percent from cars made before 1968.
Great Lakes water quality is improving, and manv,
rivers are cleaner as a result of EPA enforcement
activity. The use of two controversial pesticides.
DDT and aldrin-dieldrin,  has been banned. By
1980, at least 25 cities will be involved in some
phase of resource recovery of municipal trash.
And EPA has established a noise standard for
big trucks and is working on several more  for
airports, locomotives, and other sources. These
are just a few of the achievements, and more
are on the way.
  The public has shown a deep and continuing
commitment to the cause of improving their
quality of life. As the  Roman poet. Ovid, declared
nearly 20 centuries ago: "Nature has made
neither sun nor air nor waves private property;
they are public gifts!'  As long as Americans
understand that and are willing to work to
protect and preserve their natural environmental
heritage, the cause will persevere.


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