GOOD

Before 1970, if a factory wanted to dump toxic waste into a river in the United States, they could get away with it. There was no Clean Water Act, no Clean Air Act, no Environmental Protection Agency. Though protests were common, they were focused on the war in Vietnam, not improving the environment. A Wisconsin senator, Gaylord Nelson, was inspired to change things; on April 22, he organized the first Earth Day, a "teach-in" on the environment. 20 million Americans demonstrated that day, and the government listened: by December, they had established the EPA and passed the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Endangered Species Acts.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles

In a modern house or office, the air inside can actually be two to five times more polluted than the air outdoors. And if you're like the average person, you spend around 90 percent of your time inside. State-of-the-art design can help solve the problem: architects can design for good ventilation, and product designers can design furniture, carpets, and paints that don't pollute the air. But what if you're stuck with a stuffy apartment and a formaldehyde-filled couch?

Keep Reading Show less
Articles

A Few Things to Remind People Quoting That Organic Food Study

Man, one document says organic food might not be worth the dollar and you'd think an organic vegetable had held up a bank.

Whoa, slow down, internet and television news! Man, one document says organic food might not be worth the dollar and you'd think an organic vegetable had held up a bank.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles

Why the U.S. Government Won't Protect Us From Toxic Chemicals In Our Food Supply

Three decades later, Americans are still waiting for the EPA to fulfill its promise on examining dioxins in our food supply.


In 1985, “We are the World” won song of the year, The Goonies and Back to the Future lit up the silver screen, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would assess the health risks of dioxins. “We are the World” hasn’t hit the airwaves in years, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a child today who is familiar with beloved 1980s flicks. Yet 27 years later, Americans are still waiting for the EPA to fulfill its promise on examining dioxins.

The federal agency has missed [PDF] self-imposed deadline after deadline to release its study of dioxins, toxic chemicals that have been linked to cancer and other health problems. The agency seemed like it was going to come through this year, pinky-swearing that officials would release the long-awaited study by the end of January. Environmentalists, scientists, policy makers, parents, war veterans, and concerned citizens were hopeful that this would finally be the year for some clear, safe guidelines on dioxins.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles

New EPA Data Brings Home the Reality of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

How much greenhouse gas does your neighborhood power plant emit?


Just a few blocks from my apartment, a ConEdison power plant looms over the East River. I don’t think about it much—it’s not particularly pleasant to walk by, but I rarely go that way, and it doesn’t smell or emit clouds of smoky pollution. It does emit a lot of carbon dioxide, though: more than 2.2 million metric tons in 2010, making it the sixth-largest source of greenhouse-gas emissions in New York State that year.

The only reason I know how much greenhouse gas my neighborhood power plant dumped into the atmosphere is because today, the Environmental Protection Agency published the first results of its new greenhouse-gas reporting program. Since 1990, the EPA has depended on aggregated national data to calculate the country’s total emissions, but 2010 was the first year individual polluters were required to tell the agency exactly how much carbon, methane, and other greenhouse gases they produced. The EPA is making the resulting data publicly available online, and the site (although a bit sluggish) provides a much clearer picture of exactly where our emissions come from.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles

Environmental Protection? There's An App for That

Calling all developers: the EPA wants you to build apps with its vast amounts of data.

For a while now, the Environmental Protection Agency has been working to make its public data more accessible. In fact, in her "First Day Memo" from over two years ago, administrator Lisa Jackson included improved transparency as one of the main goals for the agency.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles