The United States Environmental Protection Agency was founded on December 2nd, 1970. From that time to the present, America’s environmental history has stood witness to both dramatic events and remarkable progress. In 1969, just before the agency was established, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio became so polluted that it caught fire – a situation that provided impetus for Congress to pass the federal Clean Water Act.
By 2009, concern about climate change and sea-level rise led EPA to make the first official finding that greenhouse gases threaten human health and our environment. Throughout that time public support for EPA’s accomplishments whether it is hazardous waste management, acid rain, or the quality of drinking water has remained strong, widespread, and consistent. This discussion explores the impact and importance of the EPA’s past accomplishments and how they inform the future direction of the Agency.