The Politics Of Going Green Essay

2307 words - 9 pages

Sustainability, as it pertains to the environment, seems like an idea that would appeal to everyone. The idea of conserving what we have, reusing what we can, and developing new ways to more efficiently use our planet’s limited recourses just seems like common sense to me. Unfortunately, our representatives in Washington D.C. have used environmentalism as a way to gain votes and divide the electorate. Responsible management of our planet has become as widely debated as gay marriage or religion in the schools. Like most social issues, sustainability has ardent supporters and determined critics.
Global warming has become the spotlight for both sides of the battle over sustainability in American politics. Supporters of legislation that limit green house gases believe, along with the vast majority of scientists, that humans are the cause of the accelerating temperature rise of our planet. Opponents of such legislation argue that the rise in annual global temperature is attributed to the Earth’s natural heating and cooling cycles. No matter which side is correct, it seems only reasonable to me to explore alterative energy sources because our planet has a limited supply of fossil fuels. “Repowering America” will not be an easy task but I believe it is essential for our country’s economic and national stability. So, what has kept America, or more specifically America’s politicians, from leading in what is possibly the most important dilemma facing our planet?
Strong public support for cleaner water, air, and soil began in the 1960’s. Public outcry and mounting scientific evidence pressured the Nixon administration and congress to propose the National Environmental Act. This bill, that “encouraged productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment,” was signed into law on New Years Day 1970. Nixon wanted the event to be seen as the beginning of what he called “the environmental decade.” The year 1970 also saw the first Earth Day held on April 22nd. On that day some 20 million Americans throughout the country held peaceful demonstrations favoring environmental reforms. The year ended with the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on December 2, 1970.The EPA is charged with establishing and enforcing environmental protection standards, conducting environmental research, assisting others in combating environmental pollution, and recommending new environmental protection policies to the President (Lewis). The short Carter administration’s energy policy highlighted funding for solar energy and the continuation of Nixon policies. As the environmental decade came to close and the Carter administration ended in 1981, the new President shifted attention and funding elsewhere. The left praised Reagan for his environmental record as governor of California but after entering the oval office Reagan quickly began undoing much of the environmental progress of the last decade. In his first year in office Reagan proposed a 25...

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