In The 1960s, The Environment Was Severely Polluted

The Cuyahoga River used to catch on fire. The Four Corners Power Plant plume was visible half way to the Moon.

The Clean Air and Clean Water Acts were critical pieces of legislation – from the days when the EPA was actually concerned about the environment, rather than simply functioning as a fund raising extension of the Internal Revenue Service

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11 Responses to In The 1960s, The Environment Was Severely Polluted

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    That’s kinda funny. From 1971 to 1974 I was employed measuring the pollution coming out of the stacks of the Four Corners Power Plant.

    1. The plume was never visible from outer space. See the study done by meteorologist Loren Crow — what was visible were shadows of contrails. Four Corners, and San Juan, and the new one (whatever its name) are under the jetways from Dallas to Los Angeles. What the astronauts saw, what the cameras caught, were the shadows of the contrails. Among other tell-tales, the Sun’s angle at the time of the photos.

    2. Though particulates were cleaned up by the original improvements, there were still high levels of sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides, and aerosols that contributed to visibility restrictions throughout the region, including the Grand Canyon. In short, while the most visible emissions were controlled by 1973, that was only part of the story. More scrubbers and other controls were required to reduce the gaseous, more damaging pollution (SO2 and NOx do severe damage to desert plants).

    3. Odd, to me, that you’d acknowledge some of the effects of the Clean Air Act, while denying the spurs to get the law passed in other threads. The Clean Air Act of 1970 required controls of particulates, but the Clean Air Amendments of 1977 struck right at the “invisible” emissions from these power plants in the Southwest with the rule requiring “prevention of significant deterioration” in clean air. Prior to that, the power companies (including APS) argued that they could dump a lot of pollution before violating clean air standards.

    Environmental writers, among them Garrett Hardin, Paul Ehrlich, Wallace Stegner and Ed Abbey, contributed greatly to mobilizing public opinion to get the laws passed.

    • Edward Abbey? The guy who wrote about blowing up Glen Canyon Dam….. Thanks for letting us know who your heroes are.

      • Ed Darrell says:

        Yeah, he wrote The Monkey Wrench Gang, too. You didn’t read it, I take it.

        Abbey was a great writer. Most people read Desert Solitaire, however — which is a reflective, non-fiction work.

        If Abbey isn’t one of your writing heroes, you’re not fully American. Wallace Stegner, too.

        Suggesting Abbey to be a problem for writing Monkey Wrench Gang is like suggesting Twain to be a communist for Huck Finn, or Steinbeck a radical for Grapes of Wrath. If you don’t care about humans, you won’t like Abbey.

      • Ed Darrell says:

        No, I’m an ambassador for reading comprehension and straight up U.S. history — which is why I bother at all here. You need so much help in both areas.

      • Ed Darrell says:

        Ignorance is a curable condition. You could read Abbey now, or Leopold, or Stegner, or Tempest Williams, or others.

        • I read all of Abbey’s books in the 1980s. He was advocating environmental terrorism.Hayduke was an environmental terrorist. Why are you supporting these ideas?

    • Ed Darrell says:

      Like I said: Reading comprehension difficulties.

      Abbey powerfully advocated preserving natural wonders, protecting the environment, and wrote with great humor about monkeywrenching — which can be distinguished from terrorism by the fact that people are not harmed by monkeywrenching (business profitlines might suffer, but surely you don’t deny the spiritual value of things).

      I worry that you don’t appear to have distinguished between environmental protection, which also protects and extends and enriches human life and existence, and environmental “terrorism,” however you define it. Tantamount to condemning capitalism completely for having utilized child labor.

      • Ed Darrell says:

        Wikipedia has Hayduke as I remember him:

        The character of Hayduke was based on his friend and author, Doug Peacock, a Vietnam vet that Abbey befriended and traveled with in the Southwest United States. He is most likely named after the Haiduks, rebels in the Ottoman Empire, and one of Eric Hobsbawm’s archetypal bandits.

        Hayduke is Abbey’s codification of the wants, longings, and desires of the average male environmentalist awash in the frustrations of corporate greed and corruption where the voice of the little people remain unheard — until the little people rise up and take direct action because, as Abbey’s Monkey Wrench Gang puts it, “somebody has to do it.”

        One of the most relevant aspect of Hayduke as a symbol — as an archetype, in fact — is the fact that for all the property destruction dished out at the hands of Hayduke during his efforts with The Monkey Wrench Gang, despite the explosions, the excavation equipment ruined, the survey stakes pulled up from mile after seemingly endless mile of soon-to-be-destroyed countryside, Hayduke never hurt, maimed, or killed anyone.

        So, you used to go cliff diving in Powell, but you repudiate saving the lake, and you repudiate getting rid of the lake, and you repudiate almost everything about the lake and the Southwest and especially paying attention to the ecosystems and greater hydrology systems of the area. You repudiate Green Berets . . . what is there about America that you actually like and appreciate, Steve?

      • Like blowing up Glen Canyon dam and sabotaging construction equipment.

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