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tv   Reel America Environmental Protection Agency History 1970-1985  CSPAN  August 16, 2019 10:33am-10:54am EDT

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and thomas malone, founding director of the mit center for collective intelligence discusses his book super minds. the national book festival, live saturday august 31st at 10:00 a.m. eastern on book tv on cspan2. ♪ oh beautiful for spacious skies ♪ for amber waves of grain ♪ for purple mountains majesties ♪ above the fruited plain ♪ america, america
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♪ god shared his grace on thee and ground thy good with brotherhood ♪ from sea to shining sea >> dark skies and ruined water. burning rivers. oil spills. closed beaches. silent spring. 20 years ago the wealthiest nation the world had ever known, people who enjoyed a level of private consumption undreamed of in the past found itself awash in environmental squaller. cars were comfortable, but
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children couldn't play outside because of smog. clothes were clean, but bays were choked with sewage, and lakes were slowly dying. a wave of horror swept the nation as we began to realize what we had done to the natural systems that supported all life. the environmental movement was born. governments at all levels responded with programs aimed at controlling pollution. but by 1970, it had become obvious further progress would require a strong national effort. as a result, on december 2nd, 1970, president richard nixon consolidated 15 environmental programs from across the federal government to form the united states environmental protection agency. not only did the new epa inherit responsibilities from its parent programs but it soon had a raft
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of new ones. passage of the clean air act of 1970 meant that epa's management had to simultaneously organize dozens of different staffs and laboratories to develop the national air quality standards required by the act. while at the same time showing the american people that something was being done to stop air pollution. epa went to court. factories were shut down. the message got through. gross pollution would no longer be part of business as usual in the united states. the clean water act passed in 1972 also required enormous, unprecedented efforts on the part of the new agency. 60 million people were on sewage systems discharging two million tonls of raw organic waste into surface waters. new law mandated a system of universal sewage treatment and gave epa the job of bringing it
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about. a job that meant running one of the largest public works programs in the nation's history. these huge air and water protection programs were hardly under way when congress gave epa new ones. an expanded pesticide program to examine and register agricultural pest killers, to ensure these essential chemicals don't men as human health or survival of natural systems. a program to test, register and control toxic chemicals used in industry and the home. a program to set standards for the nation's drinking water. a program to control the disposal of solid waste, including hazardous waste. a program to help clean up potentially dangerous hazardous waste dumps that are our legacy from the careless past. a program to control various sources of radioactivity.
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and a group of other responsibilities that reflect our concern with the character of the american land. including the requirement for environmental impact statements, the establishment of marine sanctuaries, and protection of wetlands. armed with these authorities epa has demonstrated in the last 15 years that the ideals of earth day 1970 could be forged into effective instruments of national policy. as a result the kind of problems that led to the formation of the new agency, killing smog and burning rivers, are largely under control. between 1970 and 1981 although we added 30 million people to our population, and increased the gross national product by almost 36%, we reduce particulate emissions by 53%.
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sulphur oxide by 21%. and carbon monoxide by 20%. lead levels declined 64% nationally as the new anti-pollution devices required motorists to stop using leaded gas. we provided municipal sewage treatment for over 80 million americans. organic waste from industry has been reduced by 38%. when currently mandated controls are in place, discharges of toxic pollutants will have been reduced 96% from 1972 levels. a number of widely used chemicals with unacceptable toxicity, such as ddt, pcbs have been successfully banned. we set up a regulatory system to track hazardous waste from their point of origin to point of disposal to prevent any disasters like love canal from happening to our children.
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the super fund program has located the most important abandoned waste sites and moved to prevent any public health damage to surrounding communities. all of this accomplished through the skill and dedication of epa's people. some 13,000 of them. they're organized into four program offices that administer major regulatory laws. air and radiation, water, solid waste and emergency response, and pesticides and toxic substances. the agency as a whole is directed by an administrator with assistant administrators in charge of each program office. the administrator, deputy administrator, and assistant administrators are appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate. in addition, there are assistant administrators with appropriate staffs for research and
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development, enforcement and compliance monitoring, administration, policy, planning and evaluation, and external affairs. a general counsel and inspector general office round out the basic organization. epa is a largely decentralized operation because environmental protection under our present laws requires that a major part of the job be done by the states. epa staff has to work closely with state environmental protection organizations to get the job done. there are ten regional headquarters housing staff responsible for the major regulatory programs in boston, new york city, philadelphia, atlanta, chicago, dallas, kansas city, denver, san francisco, and seattle.
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the scientific work takes place in laboratories across the country. air pollution work takes place in raleigh, durham, north carolina. toxicology and industrial engineering in cincinnati. groundwater research in oklahoma. pesticide biology in florida, ecosystem research in oregon. this scientific effort is essential to meeting environmental challenges that still lie ahead. we need to know a lot more about how toxic substances behave in the environment and what effects various exposure levels have on human health and the environment. this knowledge would help us control risks from these sub stan stances without sacrificing benefits from technologies that produce them. we need information on long range transport of pollutants through the air. acid rain is an example of this
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kind of transport. we must do better at tracking flow of pollutants through the environment. much of our pollution control apparatus was designed with one environmental medium, air or water or land in mind. pollutants can cross between media and present risks in the new state as well. we clean the water but produce millions of tons of sewage sludge a year. we could incinerate sludge but at what cost to the purity of the air? new and creative technologies are needed, and epa has been a pioneer in developing these. fluidized bed combustion that reduces sulphur emissions from coal burning is one example. another, the blue goose, block long mobile incinerator, a product of epa's research facility at edison, new jersey. it uses intense heat to eliminate much of the toxicity
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of hazardous waste. epa has also helped develop new sewage treatment technology and new ways of preventing contamination of groundwater by leaking hazardous waste dumps. the work of the people of epa and thousands of colleagues in environmental protection has been rewarded by the marked response of the natural environment. there's fishing and water recreation again on many major rivers and bays in places many thought were dead forever. we have improved water quality on 47,000 miles of streams since 1972. lake erie did not die. over 22,000 acres on the new jersey shore have been reopened for shell fishing. there are fish in the trinity river at dallas. a stretch once written off as a permanent sewer.
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the most symbolic achievement of all has been return of the bald eagle. endangered populations of the national bird have come back more quickly than expected. scientific evidence shows that the eagles are flying again, largely because of a ban on ddt. new problems have taken the place of the old ones, and each program at epa confronts a fresh set of tasks. the air program is developing a strategy for noncompliance in the air. it is shifting attention to inhalable particulates, tiny fragments that cause the most significant health effects, and to dealing with changing energy sources such as wood burning furnaces. the control of toxic substances is a problem, as does a workable
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solution done bias i dy acid ra. the task of issuing guidelines, rules that tell industrial sources what concentrations they can allow to flow into surface waters. the construction grants program continues. but plans are being made to turn this responsibility over to the states. emphasis at epa turned to ensuring the plants are run properly. new emphasis is being placed on protection of the nation's groundwater resources and on ensuring all americans will be able to drink pure water into the indefinite future. finally we are starting to realize that the goals of the clean water act will not be fully met unless we deal with polluting training from farms and cities. this many nonpoint source pollution is responsible for half the water quality problem in some areas.
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the water office is working with land owners and other government agencies to handle the problem. epa solid waste programs are relatively new. the problems are old and will take a long time to solve. 6 billion tons of solid and hazardous waste are produced in the united states each year and deciding what to do with this mass or better yet how to reduce it will not be easy. we have made a good start. regulations governing treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous waste are now in place. we have also moved forward against the problems arising from inactive sites under our super fund authority. epa and the states have almost completed the inventory of potentially hazardous sites. the complex process of determining what to do at
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particular sites and who should do it is under way at many of them. the effort to control harmful effects of toxic chemicals used by our technological society is one of the most difficult and complex tasks ever devised. there are over 60,000 chemicals in commerce. between 3 and 4 billion pounds of pesticides used each year. it is the job of the office of pesticides and toxic substances to determine which chemical uses are unacceptably risky and to control them. its mission is the stuff of headlines, when the names of obscure or everyday chemicals identified as risks burst into the public consciousness. d dioxin, pcbs. they konls entrait on speeding registration of pesticides and checking for misuse.
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checking for toxicity, thousands of new chemicals developed each year, and continuing the control of widely used chemicals that may cause serious disease. asbestos and pcb are the most familiar of these. all these efforts are connected. the environmental protection agency was borne out of the idea that nature is a seamless web of life. a poet said you cannot touch a flower without troubling of a star. we have to protect the whole environment. we are not in business to move pollution around from one place to another. we have to realize that pollution control itself generates some risk. and that the art is in deciding as free and responsible people what risks we are willing to live with and what we are willing to spend to reduce them. we have come a long way in just
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15 years. the american people have risen to the challenge of living more gently in the natural world. with their continuing support we in the environmental protection protection agency can move on to protect our mission in its deepest sense, which is to shake the nation and the planet we intend to leave to our children. all week, we're featuring american history tv prom ggrams a preview of what is available every weekend on cspan3. lectures in history, the real america, civil war, oral histories, presidency, and our nation's history. enjoy american history tv now and every weekend on cspan3. week nights this month,
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we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on cspan3. tonight, a look at world war ii. we begin with high schoolteacher karen cabana on food rationing during the war and innovations that led to modern day processed food. she then discussed wartime policies dealing with farm labor shortages and food rationing on the home front. watch american history tv starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern on cspan3. the cspan city's tour is on the road exploring the american story. >> boseman, in many ways, is a lens into the way in which montana is changing. it is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, micropolitan areas in terms of growth in the country. >> we take you to boseman, montana. >> the most famous formation for dinosaurs is the hell creek
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formation, and that is where we go to find triceratops and t-rex, two of the most iconic dinosaurs are known from the hell creek formation, and we have that here in montana. >> ivan doig is a beloved author in montana. ivan, i think, really gives voice to the working wepeople o montana. >> watch the cities tour of boseman, montana, saturday at 6:00 p.m. eastern on book tv and tuesday at 2:00 p.m. on cspan3. working with our cable affiliates as we explore the american story. saturday on american history tv, at 10:00 p.m. eastern on real america, the 1970 film "communists on campus." >> yes, we are communists. their mission proudly proclaimed the violent overthrow of the democratic system. yet, our nation seems
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unbelieving, even unconcerned. >> sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. eastern on oral histories, woodstock co-creator arnie cornfecor cornfeld details how the festival came together. >> i said, suppose we have hendricks and job lplin, all th people. how many will come? >> he said 50,000. >> i said, 100,000. my wife said, there will be more than 300,000. just like that. i swear to god, i looked off that terrace, and i actually saw that field. when i'm interviewed in the movie everyone says, were you spaced out? of course i was spaced out. i was looking at a dream that came true. >> at 6:00 on american artifacts, virginia museum of history and culture on the exhibit on 400 years of african-american history. >> we were not content with their lot. they wanted to resist their enslavement, and they tried to run away. unfortunately, they were not
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successful. they were captured. as punishment for their attempt to escape, robert carter got permission from the court in 1708 to have their toes cut off. >> explore our nation's past on american history tv, every weekend on cspan3. march 28th, 1979, the events just outside of harrisburg, pennsylvania. the next 90 minutes here on "washington journal" and history tv, we look at the accident which was the partial meltdown of reactor number two at the facility in pennsylvania. it occurred 40 years ago. the incident rated a 5 on the 7-point international nuclear event scale. as the story continued to unfold 40 years ago, here's how ed bradley of cbs news


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