America faced significant environmental challenges in the 1960s. We have made significant progress since then, but much remains to be done to sustain that progress and avoid or manage future problems. Many people are not aware of those challenges and the subsequent progress, some because they were born long after the nation’s concerted environmental program commenced.
Consequently, the EPA Alumni Association has prepared this essay, Protecting the Environment: A Half Century of Progress, to tell the story of our nation’s environmental program for those who don’t know or remember it.
The goal of this essay is to inform high school and college students and others about the major environmental problems and issues encountered in the United States in the latter half of the 20th century, how they were addressed, and the importance of continued vigilance in attacking remaining and evolving issues.
Our Half Century of Progress essay presents an overview of the environmental problems that existed, the major actions taken, and the progress made as well as the challenges that remain. It is supported by seven more detailed essays that interested readers can access to learn much more about the challenges and accomplishments of each of the major EPA programs. We hope that these essays will bring about a greater appreciation for the need for effective environmental programs in the future as well as inspire students and others to consider careers in the environmental field.
The September 2016 update of the Half Century of Progress Essay incorporates comments and recommendations from EPA alumni as well as a number of educational professionals, including secondary AP Environmental Science teachers. We are working on a teachers’ guide and welcome comments and suggestions on ways to improve and increase the utility of these materials for use in the classroom.
The U.S. Regulatory Process in Environmental Protection Description Rules developed by EPA to carry out major Congressionally-enacted environmental statutes have been one of the major forces in achieving ongoing gains in environmental quality. This paper provides an overview of the evolving process that has been used over the last half century to develop these environmental regulations.