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Earth Day Continues to be a Call to Action

Release Date: 04/16/2008
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – April 16, 2008) - On the first Earth Day in 1970, the nation was challenged by rampant and often highly visible forms of environmental pollution. Valleys were filled with leaky drums of hazardous chemicals. Air pollution was so thick that in some cities, people had to change their shirts twice a day. Entire towns built on toxic waste sites were abandoned.

The protests on that first Earth Day served as a wake-up call to our nation that the degradation of our air, water and land could no longer be ignored. People from all backgrounds and political leanings came together to demand results – and results are what we have achieved.

With the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency a few months after that first Earth Day, the country took steps to create a cleaner, healthier environment for all Americans. Over the next three and a half decades, EPA led the nationwide effort to clean up and protect the environment, for today and for the future.

On this Earth Day we see these successes all around us. The lakes of Vermont and New Hampshire are showing signs of recovery from the effects of acid rain. Historically contaminated waste sites dating back to New England’s colonial past are being cleaned and restored. Incredibly, since 1970 air pollution has been reduced by over 50 percent even while our country’s gross domestic product nearly tripled. Nobody disputes that environmental protection and economic growth can go hand in hand.

Our environmental consciousness has changed not only the way our communities look, it has helped change the way each one of us view our personal responsibility to the environment. We now recognize that a clean environment is everyone’s responsibility. It’s entirely appropriate that we all channel our concerns into a renewed commitment to the environment by taking action.

This Earth Day, New Englanders all the way from Downeast Maine to Connecticut’s Fairfield County aren’t taking to streets to rally, but are taking to streambeds to clean up trash. Families are taking to community centers to learn about recycling. We’re taking energy conservation into our homes and businesses by buying energy efficient products that are good for the environment and good for the bottom line.

As Earth Day matures from a day of protest to a day of action, New Englanders remain in the forefront of our country’s transition into a green and environmentally-aware society.

By working together we have cleared away the leaky drums, extinguished the burning rivers, and cleaned up toxic waste sites. While many of these visible challenges have been addressed, we must renew our personal commitment to reduce our environmental footprint and address the issues we now face.

This Earth Day, I encourage each of us to move beyond simply expressing concern. By taking action we can leave the earth a better, cleaner place than we found it.

More information:
Earth Day activities in or near your community (epa.gov/ne/earthday/events)

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By Robert W. Varney
Regional Administrator
U.S. EPA, New England Regional Office