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Chapter 1 History 1.1 Environmental Issues Become Visible and Regulated LEARNING OBJECTIVES 1. Gain an understanding of environmental issues’ historical antecedents. 2. Identify key events leading to regulatory action. 3. Understand how those events shaped eventual business actions. Sustainability innovations, currently driven by a subset of today’s entrepreneurial actors, represent the new generation of business responses to health, ecological, and social concerns. The entrepreneurial innovations we will discuss in this book reflect emerging scientific knowledge, widening public concern, and government regulation directed toward a cleaner economy. The US roots of today’s sustainability innovations go back to the 1960s, when health and environmental problems became considerably more visible. By 1970, the issues had intensified such that both government and business had to address the growing public worries. The US environmental regulatory framework that emerged in the 1970s was a response to growing empirical evidence that the post–World War II design of industrial activity was an increasing threat to human health and environmental system functioning. We must keep in mind, however, that industrialization and in particular the commercial system that emerged post–World War II delivered considerable advantages to a global population. To state the obvious: there have been profoundly important advances in the human condition as a consequence of industrialization. In most countries, life spans have been extended, infant mortality dramatically reduced, and diseases conquered. Remarkable technological advances have made our lives healthier, extended education, and made us materially more comfortable. Communication advances have tied people together into a single global community, able to connect to each other and advance the common good in ways that were unimaginable a short time ago. Furthermore, wealth creation activity by business and the resulting rise in living standards have brought millions of people out of poverty. It is this creative capacity, our positive track record, and a well-founded faith in our ability to learn, adapt, and evolve toward more Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 5 beneficial methods of value creation that form the platform for the innovative changes discussed in this text. Human beings are adept at solving problems, and problems represent system feedback that can inform future action. Therefore, we begin this discussion with a literal and symbolic feedback loop presented to the American public in the 1960s. Widespread public awareness about environmental issues originated with the publication of the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in 1962. Carson, a biologist, argued that the spraying of the synthetic pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) was causing a dramatic decline in bird populations, poisoning the food chain, and thus ultimately harming humans. Similar to Upton Sinclair’s 1906 book The Jungle and its exposé of the shocking conditions in the American meatpacking industry, Silent Spring was a dramatic challenge to the chemical industry and to the prevalent societal optimism toward technology and post–World War II chemical use. Its publication ignited a firestorm of publicity and controversy. Predictably, the chemical industry reacted quickly and strongly to the book’s threat and was critical of Carson and her ideas. In an article titled “Nature Is for the Birds,” industry journal Chemical Week described organic farmers and those opposed to chemical pesticides as “a motley lot” ranging from “superstition-ridden illiterates to educated scientists, from cultists to relatively reasonable men and women” and strongly suggesting Carson’s claims were unwarranted. 1 Chemical giant Monsanto responded directly to Carson by publishing a mocking parody of Silent Spring titled The Desolate Year. The book, with a “prose and format similar to Carson’s…described a small town beset by cholera and malaria and unable to produce adequate crops because it lacked the chemical pesticides necessary to ward off harmful pests.” 2 Despite industry’s counteroffensive, President Kennedy, in part responding to Carson’s book, appointed a special panel to study pesticides. The panel’s findings supported her thesis. 3 However, it wasn’t until 1972 that the government ended the use of DDT. 4 Figure 1.1 "DDT Accumulation in the Food Chain" shows how toxins concentrate in the food chain. Humans, as consumers of fish and other animals that accumulate DDT, are at the top of the food chain and therefore can receive particularly high levels of the chemical. Even after developed countries had banned DDT for decades, in the early part of the twenty-first century the World Health Organization reapproved DDT use to prevent malaria in less developed countries. Lives were saved, yet trade-offs were necessary. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 6 Epidemiologists continue to associate high concentration levels with breast cancer and negative effects on the neurobehavioral development of children. 5 Figure 1.1 DDT Accumulation in the Food Chain DDT levels, shown in nanograms per gram of body fat for animals in Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe, accumulate in the food chain. Source: Håkan Berg, Martina Kiibus, and Nils Kautsky, “DDT and Other Insecticides in the Lake Kariba Ecosystem, Zimbabwe,” Ambio 21 (November 1992): 444–50. Throughout the 1960s, well-publicized news stories were adding momentum to the call for comprehensive federal environmental legislation. The nation’s air quality had deteriorated rapidly, and in 1963 high concentrations of air pollutants in New York City caused approximately three hundred deaths and thousands of injuries. 6 At the same time, cities like Los Angeles, Chattanooga, and Pittsburgh had Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 7 become infamous for their dense smog. Polluted urban areas, once considered unpleasant and unattractive inconveniences that accompanied growth and job creation, were by the 1960s definitively connected by empirical studies to a host of respiratory problems. Urban air quality was not the only concern. Questions were also being raised about the safety of drinking water and food supplies that were dependent on freshwater resources. In 1964, over a million dead fish washed up on the banks of the Mississippi River, threatening the water supplies of nearby towns. The source of the fish kill was traced to pesticide leaks, specifically endrin, which was manufactured by Velsicol. 7 Several other instances of polluted waterways added to the public’s awareness of the deterioration of the nation’s rivers, streams, and lakes and put pressure on legislators to take action. In the mid-1960s, foam from nonbiodegradable cleansers and laundry detergents began to appear in rivers and creeks. By the late 1960s, Lake Erie was so heavily polluted that millions of fish died and many of the beaches along the lake had to be closed. 8 On June 22, 1969, the seemingly impossible occurred in Ohio when the Cuyahoga River, which empties into Lake Erie, caught fire, capturing the nation’s attention. However, it was not the first time; the river had burst into flame multiple times since 1968. Cuyahoga River Fire Chocolate-brown, oily, bubbling with subsurface gases, it oozes rather than flows. “Anyone who falls into the Cuyahoga does not drown,” Cleveland’s citizens joke grimly. “He decays.” The Federal Water Pollution Control Administration dryly notes: “The lower Cuyahoga has no visible life, not even low forms such as leeches and sludge worms that usually thrive on wastes.” It is also—literally—a fire hazard. A few weeks ago, the oil-slicked river burst into flames and burned with such intensity that two railroad bridges spanning it were nearly destroyed. “What a terrible reflection on our city,” said Cleveland Mayor Carl Stokes sadly. 9 Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 8 Adding to air and drinking water concerns was the growing problem of Figure 1.2 Earth as Photographed from Outer Space10 coastal pollution from human activity. Pollution from offshore oil drilling gained national attention in 1969 when a Union Oil Company offshore platform near Santa Barbara, California, punctured an uncharted fissure, releasing an estimated 3.25 million gallons of thick crude oil into the ocean. Although neither the first nor the worst oil spill on record, the accident coated the entire coastline of the city of Santa Barbara with oil, along with most of the coasts of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The incident received national media attention given the beautiful coastal location of the spill. In response to the spill, a local environmental group calling itself Get Oil Out (GOO) collected 110,000 signatures on a petition to the government to stop further offshore drilling. President Nixon, a resident of California, complied and imposed a temporary moratorium on California offshore development. 11 Influenced by these events and the proliferation of environmental news stories and public discourse, citizens of industrialized countries had begun to shift their perceptions about the larger physical world. Several influential books and articles introduced to the general public the concept of a finite world. Economist Kenneth Boulding, in his 1966 essay “The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth,” coined the metaphors of “spaceship Earth” and “spaceman economy” to emphasize that the earth was a closed system and that the economy must therefore focus not on “production and consumption at all, but the nature, extent, quality, and complexity of the total capital stock.” 12 Paul Ehrlich, in the follow-up to his 1968 best seller The Population Bomb, borrowed Boulding’s metaphor in his 1971 book How to Be a Survivor to argue that in a closed system, exponential population growth and resource consumption would breach the carrying capacity of nature, assuring misery for all passengers aboard the “spaceship.” 13 Garrett Hardin’s now famous essay, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” was published in the prestigious journal Science in December 1968. 14 It emphasized the need for new solutions to problems not easily addressed by technology, referring to pollution that involved public commons such as the air, water, soil, and oceans. These commonly used resources are shared in terms of access, but no single person or institution has formal responsibility for their protection. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 9 Another symbolic turning point came in 1969 during the Apollo 11 mission, when the first photograph of the earth was taken from outer space. The image became an icon for the environmental movement. During that time period and subsequently, quotations proliferated about the new relationship between humans and their planetary Figure 1.3 Blue Marble home. In a speech at San Fernando Valley State College on September This image shows South America from 26, 1966, the vice president of the United States Hubert H. Humphrey September 2004. said, “As we begin to comprehend that the earth itself is a kind of Source: NASA’s Earth Observatory, “BlueMarble,” accessed March 7, manned spaceship hurtling through the infinity of space—it will seem 2011,http://earthobservatory.nasa increasingly absurd that we have not better organized the life of the .gov/Features/BlueMarble. human family.” In the December 23, 1968, edition of Newsweek, Frank Borman, commander of Apollo 8, said, “When you’re finally up at the moon looking back on earth, all those differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend, and you’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people.” KEY TAKEAWAYS  By the 1970s, the public began to recognize the finite resources of the earth and to debate its ability to sustain environmental degradation as environmental catastrophes grew in size and number.  Chemical contaminants were discovered to accumulate in the food chain resulting in much higher concentrations of toxins at the top.  Key events and publications educated citizens about the impact of human activities on nature and the need for new approaches. These included the Santa Barbara oil spill, Silent Spring, and “The Tragedy of the Commons.” EXERCISES 1. How do you think Americans' experience of abundance, economic growth, and faith in technology influenced perceptions about the environment? 2. How did these perceptions change over time and why? 3. Compare your awareness of environmental and health concerns with that of your parents or other adults of your parents' generation. Name any differences you notice between the generations. 4. What parallels, if any, do you see between today's discussions about environmental issues and the history provided here? Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 10 1 “Nature Is for the Birds,” Chemical Week, July 28, 1962, 5, quoted in Andrew J. Hoffman, From Heresy to Dogma: An Institutional History of Corporate Environmentalism (San Francisco: New Lexington Press, 1997), 51. 2 Andrew J. Hoffman, From Heresy to Dogma: An Institutional History of Corporate Environmentalism (San Francisco: New Lexington Press, 1997), 51. 3 Andrew J. Hoffman, From Heresy to Dogma: An Institutional History of Corporate Environmentalism (San Francisco: New Lexington Press, 1997), 57. 4 A ban on DDT use went into effect in December 1972 in the United States. See US Environmental Protection Agency, “DDT Ban Takes Effect,” news release, December 31, 1972, accessed April 19, 2011, http://www.epa.gov/history/topics/ddt/01.htm. 5 Brenda Eskenazi, interviewed by Steve Curwood, “Goodbye DDT,” Living on Earth, May 8, 2009, accessed November 29, 2010, http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.htm?programID=09-P13-00019&segmentID=3; Theo Colburn, Frederick S. vom Saal, and Ana M. Soto, “Developmental Effects of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in Wildlife and Humans,” Environmental Health Perspectives 101, no. 5 (October 1993): 378–84, accessed November 24, 2010, http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1519860. DDT, along with several other chemicals used as pesticides, is suspected endocrine disruptors; the concern is not just with levels of a given toxin but also with the interactive effects of multiple synthetic chemicals accumulating in animals, including humans. 6 G. Tyler Miller and Scott Spoolman, Living in the Environment: Principles, Connections, and Solutions, 16th ed. (Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, 2009), 535. 7 Andrew J. Hoffman, From Heresy to Dogma: An Institutional History of Corporate Environmentalism (San Francisco: New Lexington Press, 1997), 52. 8 G. Tyler Miller and Scott Spoolman, Living in the Environment: Principles, Connections, and Solutions, 16th ed. (Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, 2009), 535. 9 “America’s Sewage System and the Price of Optimism,” Time, August 1, 1969, accessed March 7, 2011, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,901182,00.htmlixzz19KSrUirj. 10 “Apollo 8 hand-held Hasselblad photograph of a half illuminated Earth taken on 24 December 1968 as the spacecraft returned from the first manned orbit of the Moon. The evening terminator crosses Australia, towards the bottom. India can be seen at upper left. The sun is reflecting off the Indian ocean. The Earth is 12,740 km in diameter, north is at about 1:00. (Apollo 8, AS08-15-2561)”; NASA, “Earth—Apollo 8,” Catalog of Spaceborne Imaging, accessed March 7, 2011, http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/imgcat/html/object_page/a08_h_15_2561.html. 11 Andrew J. Hoffman, From Heresy to Dogma: An Institutional History of Corporate Environmentalism (San Francisco: New Lexington Press, 1997), 57–58. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 11 12 See Kenneth E. Boulding, “The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth,” in Environmental Quality in a Growing Economy, ed. Henry Jarrett (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1966), 3–14. 13 Philip Shabecoff, A Fierce Green Fire: The American Environmental Movement (New York: Hill & Wang, 1993), 95– 96. 14 Kenneth E. Boulding, “The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth,” in Valuing the Earth, Economics, Ecology, Ethics, ed. Herman Daly and Kenneth Townsend (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993), 297–309; Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb (New York: Ballantine Books, 1968); Paul Ehrlich, How to Be a Survivor (New York: Ballantine Books, 1975). 1.2 Business Shifts Its Focus LEARNING OBJECTIVES 1. Understand the initial framework for US environmental regulation. 2. Explain why and how companies changed their policies and practices. In response to strong public support for environmental protection, newly elected president Nixon, in his 1970 State of the Union address, declared that the dawning decade of the 1970s “absolutely must be the years when America pays its debt to the past by reclaiming the purity of its air, its waters and our living environment. It is literally now or never.” 1 Nixon signed into law several pieces of legislation that serve as the regulatory foundation for environmental protection today. On January 1, 1970, he approved the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the cornerstone of environmental policy and law in the United States. NEPA states that it is the responsibility of the federal government to “use all practicable means…to improve and coordinate federal plans, functions, programs and resources to the end that the Nation may…fulfill the responsibilities of each generation as trustee of the environment for succeeding generations.” 2 In doing so, NEPA requires federal agencies to evaluate the environmental impact of an activity before it is undertaken. Furthermore, NEPA established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which consolidated the responsibility for environmental policy and regulatory enforcement at the federal level. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 12 Also in 1970, the modern version of the Clean Air Act (CAA) was passed into law. The CAA set national air quality standards for particulates, sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, ozone, hydrocarbons, and lead, averaged over different time periods. Two levels of air quality standards were established: primary standards to protect human health, and secondary standards to protect plant and animal life, maintain visibility, and protect buildings. The primary and secondary standards often have been identical in practice. The act also regulated that new stationary sources, such as power plants, set emissions standards, that standards for cars and trucks be established, and required states to develop implementation plans indicating how they would achieve the guidelines set by the act within the allotted time. Congress directed the EPA to establish these standards without consideration of the cost of compliance. 3 To raise environmental awareness, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin arranged a national teach-in on the environment. Nelson characterized the leading issues of the time as pesticides, herbicides, air pollution, and water pollution, stating, “Everybody around the country saw something going to pot in their local areas, some lovely spot, some lovely stream, some lovely lake you couldn’t swim in anymore.” 4 This educational project, held on April 22, 1970, and organized by Denis Hayes (at the time a twenty-five-year- 5 On that day, twenty million people in more than old Harvard Law student), became the first Earth Day. two thousand communities participated in educational activities and demonstrations to demand better environmental quality. 6 The unprecedented turnout reflected growing public anxiety. Health and safety issues had become increasingly urgent. In New York City, demonstrators on Fifth Avenue held up dead fish to protest the contamination of the Hudson River, and Mayor John Lindsay gave a speech in which he stated “Beyond words like ecology, environment and pollution there is a simple question: do we want to live or die?”7 Even children’s books discussed the inability of nature to protect itself against the demands, needs, and perceived excesses associated with economic growth and consumption patterns. The 1971 children’s book The Lorax by Dr. Seuss was a sign of the times with its plea that someone “speak for the trees” that were being cut down at increasing rates worldwide, leaving desolate landscapes and impoverishing people’s lives. Earth Day fueled public support and momentum for further Figure 1.4 The Lorax environmental regulatory protection, and by 1972 the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) had set a goal to Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 13 eliminate all discharges of pollutants into navigable waters by 1985 and to establish interim water quality standards for the protection of fish, shellfish, wildlife, and recreation interests by July 1, 1983. 8 Growing concern across the country about the safety of community drinking water supplies culminated in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) of 1974. This legislation established standards for turbidity, microbiological contaminants, and chemical agents in drinking water. 9 The The Lorax, written by Dr. Seuss and first published in Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 forbade the elimination 1971, illustrated the importance of speaking up on behalf of the environment. of plant and animal species and “placed a positive duty on the Source: Dr. Seuss, The Lorax (New York: Random House, 1971). government to act to protect those species from extinction.” 10 Ten years after the publication of Silent Spring, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) was updated to prohibit or severely limit the use of DDT, aldrin, dieldrin, and many other pesticides. As a result, levels of persistent pesticides measured in human fatty tissues declined from 8 parts per million (ppm) in 1970 to 2 ppm by the mid-1980s. 11 Global Science, Political Events, Citizen Concern Pollution control typified the corporate response to environmental regulations from the genesis of the modern regulatory framework in the 1970s through the 1980s. Pollution control is an end-of-the-pipe strategy that focuses on waste treatment or the filtering of emissions or both. Pollution control strategies assume no change to product design or production methods, only attention to air, solid, and water waste streams at the end of the manufacturing process. This approach can be costly and typically imposes a burden on the company, though it may save expenses in the form of fines levied by regulatory agencies for regulatory noncompliance. Usually pollution control is implemented by companies to comply with regulations and reflects an adversarial relationship between business and government. The causes of this adversarial attitude were revealed in a 1974 survey by the Conference Board—an independent, nonprofit business research organization—that found that few companies viewed pollution control as profitable and Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 14 none found it to be an opportunity to improve production procedures. 12 Hence, from a strictly profit- oriented viewpoint, one that considers neither public reaction to pollution nor potential future liability as affecting the bottom line, pollution control put the company in a “losing” position with respect to environmental protection. The environmental regulatory structure of the United States at times has forced companies into a pollution control position by mandating specific technologies, setting strict compliance deadlines, and concentrating on cleanup instead of prevention. 13 This was evident in a 1986 report by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) that found that “over 99 percent of federal and state environmental spending is devoted to controlling pollution after waste is generated. Less than 1 percent is spent to reduce the generation of waste.” 14 The OTA at that time noted the misplaced emphasis on pollution control in regulation and concluded that existing technologies alone could prevent half of all industrial wastes. 15 Economists generally agree that it is better for regulation to require a result rather require a means to accomplishing that result. Requiring pollution control is preferred because it provides an incentive for firms to reduce pollution rather than simply move hazardous materials from one place to another, which does not solve the original problem of waste generation. For example, business researchers Michael Porter and Claas van der Linde draw a distinction between good regulations and bad regulations by whether they encourage innovation and thus enhance competitiveness while simultaneously addressing environmental concerns. Pollution control regulations, they argue, should promote resource productivity but often are written in ways that discourage the risk taking and experimentation that would benefit society and the regulated corporation: “For example, a company that innovates and achieves 95 percent of target emissions reduction while also registering substantial offsetting cost reductions is still 5 percent out of compliance and subject to liability. On the other hand, regulators would reward it for adopting safe but expensive secondary treatment.” 16 Regulations that discouraged innovation and mandated the end-of-the-pipe mind-set that was common among regulators and industry in the 1970s and 1980s contributed to the adversarial approach to environmental protection. As these conflicts between business and government heated up, new science, an energy crisis, and growing public protests fueled the fire. Global Science, Political Events, Citizen Concern Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 15 In 1972, a group of influential businessmen and scientists known as the Club of Rome published a book titled The Limits to Growth. Using mathematical models developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to project trends in population growth, resource depletion, food supplies, capital investment, and pollution, the group reached a three-part conclusion. First, if the then-present trends held, the limits of growth on Earth would be reached within one hundred years. Second, these trends could be altered to establish economic and ecological stability that would be sustainable far into the future. Third, if the world chose to select the second outcome, chances of success would increase the sooner work began to attain it. 17 Again, the notion of natural limits was presented, an idea at odds with most people’s assumptions at the time. For the people of a country whose history and cultural mythology held the promise of boundless frontiers and limitless resources, these full-Earth concepts challenged deeply held assumptions and values. Perhaps the most dramatic wake-up call came in the form of political revenge. Americans were tangibly and painfully introduced to the concept of limited resources when, in 1973, Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) banned oil shipments to the United States in retaliation for America’s support of Israel in its eighteen-day Yom Kippur War with Syria and Egypt. Prices for oil-based products, including gasoline, skyrocketed. The so-called oil shock of 1973 triggered double-digit inflation and a major economic recession. 18 As a result, energy issues became inextricably interwoven with political and environmental issues, and new activist groups formed to promote a shift from nonrenewable, fossil fuel–based and heavily polluting energy sources such as oil and coal to renewable, cleaner sources generated closer to home from solar and wind power. However, with the end of gasoline shortages and high prices, these voices faded into the background. Of course, a strong resurgence of such ideas followed the price spikes of 2008, when crude oil prices exceeded 140 per barrel. 19 In the years following the 1973 energy crisis, public and government attention turned once again toward the dangers posed by chemicals. On July 10, 1976, an explosion at a chemical plant in Seveso, Italy, released a cloud of the highly toxic chemical called dioxin. Some nine hundred local residents were evacuated, many of whom suffered disfiguring skin diseases and lasting illnesses as a result of the disaster. Birth defects increased locally following the blast, and the soil was so severely contaminated that the top eight inches from an area of seven square miles had to be removed and buried. 20 Andrew Hoffman, in his study of the American environmental movement in business, noted that “for many in the United States, the incident Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 16 at Seveso cast a sinister light on their local chemical plant. Communities became fearful of the unknown, not knowing what was occurring behind chemical plant walls.…Community and activist antagonism toward chemical companies grew, and confrontational lawsuits seemed the most visible manifestation.” 21 Over time, these developments built pressure for additional regulation of business. Politicians continued to listen to the concerns of US citizens. In 1976, the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) was passed over intense industry objections. The TSCA gave the federal government control over chemicals not already regulated under existing laws. 22 In addition, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976 expanded control over toxic substances from the time of production until disposal, or “from cradle to the grave.” 23 The following year, both the CAA and Clean Water Act were strengthened and expanded. 24 In the late 1970s, America’s attention turned once again to energy issues. In 1978, Iran triggered a second oil shock by suddenly cutting back its petroleum exports to the United States. A year later, confidence in nuclear power, a technology many looked to as a viable alternative form of energy, was severely undermined by a near catastrophe. On March 29, 1979, the number two reactor at Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, lost its coolant water due to a series of mechanical failures and operator errors. Approximately half of the reactor’s core melted, and investigators later found that if a particular valve had remained stuck open for another thirty to sixty minutes, a complete meltdown would have occurred. The accident resulted in the evacuation of fifty thousand people, with another fifty thousand fleeing voluntarily. The amount of radioactive material released into the atmosphere as a result of the accident is unknown, though no deaths were immediately attributable to the incident. Cleanup of the damaged reactor has cost 1.2 billion to date, almost twice its 700 million construction cost. 25 In large part due to the Three Mile Island incident, all 119 nuclear power plants ordered in the United States since 1973 were cancelled. 26 No new commercial nuclear power plants have been built since 1977, although some of the existing 104 plants have increased their capacity. However, in 2007, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission received the first of nearly twenty applications for permits to build new nuclear power plants. 27 One of the most significant episodes in American environmental history is Love Canal. In 1942, Hooker Electro-Chemical Company purchased the abandoned Love Canal property in Niagara Falls, New York. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 17 Over the next eleven years, 21,800 tons of toxic chemicals were dumped into the canal. Hooker, later purchased by Occidental Chemical Corporation, sold the land to the city of Niagara Falls in 1953 with a warning in the property deed that the site contained hazardous chemicals. The city later constructed an elementary school on the site, with roads and sewer lines running through it and homes surrounding it. By the mid-1970s, the chemicals had begun to rise to the surface and seep into basements. 28 Local housewife Lois Gibbs, who later founded the Citizens’ Clearinghouse for Hazardous Wastes, noticed an unusual frequency of cancers, miscarriages, deformed babies, illnesses, and deaths among residents of her neighborhood. After reading an article in the local newspaper about the history of the canal, she canvassed the neighborhood with a petition, alerting her neighbors to the chemical contamination beneath their feet. 29 On August 9, 1978, President Carter declared Love Canal a federal emergency, beginning a massive relocation effort in which the government purchased 803 residences in the area, 239 of which were destroyed. 30 Love Canal led directly to one of the most controversial pieces of Figure 1.5 Love Canal Children Protest Contamination environmental legislation ever enacted. On December 12, 1980, President Carter signed into law the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), or Superfund. This law made companies liable retroactively for cleanup of waste sites, regardless of their level of involvement. Love Canal also signaled the beginning of a new form of environmental problem. As environmental historian Hoffman indicated, “Environmental problems, heretofore assumed to be visible and foreseeable, could now originate from an unexpected source, appear many years later, and inflict both immediate and latent health and Source: AP. ecological damage. Now problems could emerge from a place as seemingly safe as your own backyard.”31 In the face of vehement industry opposition, the states and the federal government managed to put in place a wide-ranging series of regulations that defined standards of practice and forced the adoption of pollution control technologies. To oversee and enforce these regulations, taxpayers’ dollars now funded a large new Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 18 public bureaucracy. In the coming years, the size and scope of those agencies would come under fire from proindustry administrations elected on a platform of smaller government and less oversight and intervention. In the meantime, the creation of the EPA compelled many states to create their own equivalent departments for environmental protection, often to administer or enforce EPA programs if nothing else. According to Denise Scheberle, an expert on federalism and environmental policy, “few policy areas placed greater and more diverse demands on states than environmental programs.” 32 Some states, such as California, continued to press for stricter environmental standards than those set by the federal government. Almost all states have seen their relationships with the EPA vary from antagonistic to cooperative over the decades, depending on what states felt was being asked of them, why it was being asked, and how much financial assistance was being provided. Despite growing public awareness and the previous decade of federal legislation to protect the environment, scientific studies were still predicting ecological disaster. President Carter’s Council on Environmental Quality, in conjunction with the State Department, produced a study in 1980 of world ecological problems called The Global 2000 Report. The report warned that “if present trends continue, the world in 2000 will be more crowded, more polluted, less stable ecologically, and more vulnerable to disruption than the world we live in now. Serious stresses involving population, resources, and the environment are clearly visible ahead. Despite greater material output, the world’s people will be poorer in many ways than they are today.” 33 Despite forecasts like this, the election of Ronald Reagan in November of 1980 marked a dramatic decline in federal support for existing and planned environmental legislation. With Reagan’s 1981 appointments of two aggressive champions of industry, James Watt as secretary of the interior and Anne Buford as administrator of the EPA, it was apparent that the nation’s environmental policies were a prime target of his “small government” revolution. In its early years, the Reagan administration moved rapidly to cut budgets, reduce environmental enforcement, and open public lands for mining, drilling, grazing, and other private uses. In 1983, however, Buford was forced to resign amid congressional investigations into mismanagement of a toxic waste cleanup, and Watt resigned after several statements he made were widely Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 19 viewed as insensitive to actions damaging to the environment. Under Buford’s successors, William Ruckelshaus and Lee Thomas, the environmental agency returned to a moderate course as both men made an effort to restore morale and public trust. However, environmental crises continued to shape public opinion and environmental laws in the 1980s. In December 1984, approximately forty-five tons of methyl isocyanine gas leaked from an underground storage tank at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India. The accident, which was far worse than the Seveso incident eight years earlier, caused 2,000 immediate deaths, another 1,500 deaths in the ensuing months, and over 300,000 injuries. The pesticide plant was closed, and the Indian government took Union Carbide to court. Mediation resulted in a settlement payment by Union Carbide of 470 million. 34 Over twenty-five years later, in 2010, courts in India were still determining the culpability of the senior managers involved. Film Footage from Bhopal, India http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=- 7024605564670228808&ei=CSgxSoCmOIq4rgLpptXgBA&q= Bhopal%2C+India&hl=en&client=firefox-a This video, made in 2006 by Encyclomedia, shows images of victims of the Union Carbide chemical leak being treated in 1984. This disaster produced the community “right to know” provision in the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986, requiring industries that use dangerous chemicals to disclose the type and amount of chemicals used to the citizens in the surrounding area that might be affected by an accident. 35 The right to know provision was manifested in the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), in which companies made public the extent of their polluting emissions. This information proved useful for communities and industry by making both groups more aware of the volume of pollutants emitted and the responsibility of industry to lower these levels. The EPA currently releases this information at http://www.epa.gov/tri; other pollutant information is available at http://www.epa.gov/oar/data. In 1990, Thomas Lefferre, an operations vice president for Monsanto, highlighted the sensitizing effect of this new requirement on business. He wrote, “If…you file a Title III report that says your plant emits Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 20 80,000 pounds of suspected carcinogens to the air each year, you might be comforted by the fact that you’re in compliance with your permit. But what if your plant is two blocks from an elementary school? How comfortable would you be then?” 36 Figure 1.6 Emissions of Various Pollutants for Virginia under TRI in 2009 Source: EPA Office of Air and Radiation, Data and Maps—2009, “Facility Emissions Map—Criteria Air Pollutants, Virginia, 2002, Total Criteria Pollutants,” accessed March 14, 2011, http://www.epa.gov/cgi- bin/broker?_service=airdata&_program=progs.webprogs.emisumry.scl& _debug=2&geotype=st&geocode=VA&geoname=Virginia&epolmin=.&epolmax=.&epol=TOT EMIS&sic=&netyr=2002&geofeat=&mapsize=zsc&reqtype=getmap. Until the mid-1980s, environmental disasters were perceived to be confined to geographically limited locations and people rarely feared contamination from beyond their local chemical or power plant. This notion changed in 1986 when an explosion inside a reactor at a nuclear plant in Chernobyl in the Ukraine released a gigantic cloud of radioactive debris that standard weather patterns spread from the Soviet Union to Scandinavia and Western Europe. The effects were severe and persistent. As a result of the explosion, some 21,000 people in Western Europe were expected to die of cancer and even more to contract the disease as a result. Reindeer in Lapland were found to have levels of radioactivity seven times above the Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 21 norm. By 1990 sheep in northwest England and Wales were still too radioactive to be consumed. Within the former Soviet Union, over 10,000 square kilometers of land were determined to be unsafe for human habitation, yet much of the land remained occupied and farming continued. Approximately 115,000 people were evacuated from the area surrounding the plant site, 220 villages were abandoned, and another 600 villages required “decontamination.” It is estimated that the lives of over 100,000 people in the former Soviet Union have been or will likely be severely affected by the accident. 37 Other environmental problems of an international scale made headlines during the 1980s. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from smokestacks and tailpipes can be carried over six hundred miles by prevailing winds and often return to ground as acid rain. As a result, Wheeling, West Virginia, once received rain with a pH value almost equivalent to battery acid. 38 As a result of such deposition, downwind lakes and streams become increasingly acidic and toxic to aquatic plants, invertebrates, and fish. The proportion of lakes in the Adirondack Mountains of New York with a pH below the level of 5.0 jumped from 4 percent in 1930 to over 50 percent by 1970, resulting in the loss of fish stocks. Acid rain has also been implicated in damaging forests at elevations above two thousand feet. The northeastern United States and eastern 39 Rain in the Canada, located downwind from large industrialized areas, were particularly hard hit. eastern United States is now about ten times more acidic than natural precipitation. Similar problems occurred in Scandinavia, the destination of Europe’s microscopic pollutants. A 1983 report by a congressional task force concluded that the primary cause of acid rain destroying freshwater in the northeastern United States was probably pollution from industrial stacks to the south and west. The National Academy of Sciences followed with a report asserting that by reducing sulfur oxide emissions from coal-burning power plants in the eastern United States, acid rain in the northeastern part of the country and southern Canada could be curbed. However, the Reagan administration declined to act, straining relations with Canada, especially during the 1988 visit of Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. 40 Acid rain was finally addressed in part by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. The CAA, a centerpiece of the environmental legislation enacted during what might be called the first environmental wave, was significantly amended in 1990 to address acid rain, ozone depletion, and the contribution of one state’s pollution to states downwind. The act included a groundbreaking clause allowing Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 22 the trading of pollution permits for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants in the East and Midwest. Plants now had market incentives to reduce their pollution emissions. They could sell credits, transformed into permits, on the Chicago Board of Trade. A company’s effort to go beyond compliance enabled it to earn an asset that could be sold to firms that did not meet the standards. Companies were thus enticed to protect the environment as a way to increase profits, a mechanism considered by many to be a major advance in the design of environmental protection. This policy innovation marked the beginning of market-oriented mechanisms to solve pollution problems. The Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) expanded the scope of the original trading program and was reinstated after various judicial challenges to its method. The question of whether direct taxes or market solutions are best continues to be debated, however. With President Obama’s election in 2008, the question of federal carbon taxes in the United States versus allowing regional and national carbon markets to evolve became a hot topic for national debate. Another problem that reached global proportions was ozone depletion. In 1974, chemists Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina announced that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were lowering the average concentration of ozone in the stratosphere, a layer that blocks much of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays before they reach the earth. Over time, less protection from ultraviolet rays will lead to higher rates of skin cancer and cataracts in humans as well as crop damage and harm to certain species of marine life. By 1985, scientists had observed a 50 percent reduction of the ozone in the upper stratosphere over Antarctica in the spring and early summer, creating a seasonal ozone hole. In 1988, a similar but less severe phenomenon was observed over the North Pole. Sensing disaster, Rowland and Molina called for an immediate ban of CFCs in spray cans. Such a global-scale problem required a global solution. In 1987, representatives from thirty-six nations met in Montreal and developed a treaty known as the Montreal Protocol. Participating nations agreed to cut emissions of CFCs by about 35 percent between 1989 and 2000. This treaty was later expanded and strengthened in Copenhagen in 1992. 41 The amount of ozone-depleting substances close to Earth’s surface consequently declined, whereas the amount in the upper atmosphere remained high. The persistence of such chemicals means it may take decades for the ozone layer to return to the density it had Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 23 before 1980. The good news was that the rate of new destruction approached zero by 2006. 42 It is interesting to note that businesses opposed restrictions on CFC use until patent-protected alternative materials were available to substitute for CFCs in the market. The increasingly global scale of environmental threats and the growing awareness among nations of the interrelated nature of economic development and stable functioning of natural systems led the United Nations to establish the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) in 1983. The commission was convened the following year, led by chairwoman Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway. In 1987, the so-called Brundtland Commission produced a landmark report, Our Common Future, which tied together concerns for human development, economic development, and environmental protection with the concept of sustainable development. Although this was certainly not the first appearance of the term sustainable development, to many the commission’s definition became a benchmark for moving forward: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Around that same time, the phrase environmental justice was coined to describe the patterns of locating hazardous industries or dumping hazardous wastes and toxins in regions predominantly home to poor people or racial and ethnic minorities. Pollution Prevention By the mid-1970s, companies had begun to act to prevent pollution rather than just mitigate the wastes already produced. Pollution prevention refers to actions inside a company and is called an in-the-pipe as opposed to an end-of-the-pipe method for environmental protection. Unlike pollution control, which only imposes costs, pollution prevention offers an opportunity for a company to save money and implement environmental protection simultaneously. Still used today, companies often enter this process tentatively, looking for quick payback. Over time it has been shown they can achieve significant positive financial and environmental results. When this happens it helps open minds within companies to the potential of environmentally sound process redesign or reengineering that contributes both ecological and health benefits as well as the bottom line of profitability. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 24

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