in the nation and more than 10,000 schools and 2,000 colleges hosted some type
of environmental-awareness activity and spotlighted such problems as pollution,
the growth of toxic waste, and the earth’s dwindling resources. The Earth Day cel-
ebration continues today. Each year on April 22, millions of people around the
world gather to heighten public awareness of environmental problems.
THE GOVERNMENT TAKES ACTION
Although President Nixon was not con-
or someone who takes an active role in the pro-
tection of the environment, he recognized the nation’s growing concern about
the environment. In an effort to “make our peace with nature,” President Nixon
set out on a course that led to the passage of several landmark measures. In 1970,
he consolidated 15 existing federal pollution programs into the
Protection Agency (EPA).
The new agency was given the power to set and
enforce pollution standards, to conduct environmental research, and to assist
state and local governments in pollution control. Today, the EPA remains the fed-
eral government’s main instrument for dealing with environmental issues.
In 1970 Nixon signed a new Clean Air Act that added several amendments to
the Clean Air Act of 1963. The new act gave the government the authority to set
air standards. Following the 1970 Clean Air Act, Congress also passed the
Endangered Species Act, in addition to laws that limited pesticide use and curbed
strip mining—the practice of mining for ore and coal by digging gaping holes in
the land. Some 35 environmental laws took effect during the decade, addressing