Vintage photos taken by the EPA reveal what America looked like before pollution was regulated

Read the full story in Business Insider.

The Trump administration plans to kill the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s main initiative to fight climate change by lowering emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, said Monday.

The Clean Power Plan aimed to help the US reach the goals set in the Paris climate agreement by curbing emissions from power plants.

Pruitt has reportedly spent much of his term meeting with executives and lobbyists from companies and industries regulated by the EPA. Many reports also suggest that Pruitt’s primary aim is to eliminate environmental protections and dismantle much of the regulatory agency.

Under Pruitt, the EPA has already reversed a ban on 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. The agency has also reportedly begun an initiative to challenge climate science, among other rollbacks. Some of these moves have been challenged in court, but others are already in effect.

If Pruitt succeeds in rolling back a significant portion of the rules meant to protect air and water quality, we’d return to the state the US was in before these things were regulated.

The EPA was founded in 1970 and soon after began a photo project called Documerica that captured more than 81,000 images showing what the US looked like from 1971 to 1977. More than 20,000 photos were archived, and at least 15,000 have been digitized by the National Archives.

Here’s a selection of those photos, many of which show what the US looked like without the air and water protections that exist today.

Author: Laura B.

I'm the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center's Sustainability Information Curator, which is a fancy way of saying embedded librarian. I'm also Executive Director of the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable. When not writing for Environmental News Bits, I'm an avid reader. Visit Laura's Reads to see what I'm currently reading.

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