History of the EPA

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Salt Lake City has soul-sucking smog. For my lucky readers who don’t know what that means, ‘smog’ is a combo of ‘smoke’ and ‘fog’; it fills the valley during the winter and makes our air truly awful. We also call this meteorological mess an “inversion”. It’s named perfectly — in usual weather conditions, warm air stays near the ground and cooler air hangs out in the upper atmosphere. Hot air rises, causing wind. This allows the air to mix, whisking away our pollution and bringing us fresh mountain air.

But during that dreaded season of winter, cold fronts can flip everything on its head. If a warm front sneaks its way on top of a cold front, it can act as one of those flimsy plastic lids on top of our coffee cup-shaped valley. If only our valley trapped delicious smelling air instead of dangerous fumes, a lot of us would have much better winter mornings.

The population of the Wasatch Front has more than doubled since 1980. The number of cars and mining and factories has risen as well, which would make one assume that our air must have gotten much worse since the state started recording it in 1980.

But, in fact, it has gotten better. How? Mostly from government regulation.

It’s not just Utah, either. The EPA has changed the cityscape for many cities.

Image result for nyc before clean air act

New York before and after the Clean Air Act

History of the EPA

Following the growing conservation movement of the 1960s, many politicians from both sides of the aisle started to recognize the need to be better protectors of our environment. Can you imagine every presidential nominee singing the praises of environmental conservation today? It was an important talking point for all three of the candidates of the 1968 election*.  Of course, Nixon won, and two years later he signed the Environmental Protection Agency into life.

Since then, they have been the largest government agency to fight against pollution and climate change, and have passed laws such as the Clean Air Act. What I’m trying to say is they have done a lot of good work. They’ve had their share of controversies, but I think I can say they’ve done more good than bad.  

The impetus for writing this article was President Trump’s pick for the head of the EPA, as well as releasing his budget. In its current form, it calls for a 1/3 decrease in the EPA budget. We should keep in mind that Congress passes the budget, not the president. If you think that keeping the EPA around is important, call your representatives and tell them. I can’t tell you what to do, but personally, I’d rather live in a city where the air doesn’t contribute to kids getting asthma

About The Author

Just a girl who has a lot of feelings about planetary science

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