The 70's

The Environment

America was Environmentally Ignorant Leading Up to the 70's.

Gas was being "eaten up" by fuel-deficient cars like Sedans, factories were producing smoke without a second thought to the damage they were inflicting. Air pollution was a common occurrence, and people were unaware of the harm they were imposing on their home planet.

Earth Day

The 1st Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. It raised awareness of serious environmental issues, such as littering, oil spills, sewage, pesticides, toxic dumps, loss of wildlife, water pollution, and air pollution. It also encouraged nature preservation. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin created the idea of having a national teach-in for the media, and 85 people across the nation promoted and worked events for the day. 20 million Americans participated in rallies on this day, and thousands of colleges and universities held protests against the destruction of the environment.

No matter what views people had politically and economically, they came together in support of this massive, philanthropic event. This day also led to the passing of several Acts that supported its cause. Below is a picture of a poster from Earth Day of 1970. The picture after is of one of the above mentioned teach-ins on Earth Day, 1970.




Environmental Acts Passed in the 70's

In the 1970's, a series of environmental acts were passed to help protect the environment and it's inhabitants. Some major acts are:

  • National Environmental Policy Act(1970)- All federal agencies are required to give statements about projects with any major environmental consequences.
  • Clean Air Act(1970)- Allowed for federal and state laws that limit emissions from factories and cars.
  • Wild and Free Ranging Horse and Burro Protection Act(1971)- Wild, free-roaming horses and burros are to be protected from harassment, capture, branding, and death.
  • Federal Water Pollution Control Act(1972)- Protects nation's bodies of water form pollution.
  • Coastal Zone Management Act(1972)- Encourages states to protect and restore coastal zones, including coral reefs, barrier islands, dunes, beaches, estuaries, wetlands, and floodplains.
  • Marine Mammal Protection Act(1972)- Prohibits the capture of marine mammals, with some exceptions, in U.S. waters and by U.S. citizens. Also forbids the importation of marine mammals and their products into the U.S.
  • Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act(1972)- Regulates dumping of waste in US waters
  • Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act(1972)- No pesticides developed after 1972 have any unreasonably harmful results on public health and the environment.
  • Endangered Species Act(1973)- Protects endangered species from unauthorized possession, sale, transport, and killing.
  • Safe Drinking Water Act(1974)- Regulates the nation's drinking water supply.
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act(1976)- Regulates garbage and hazardous waste
  • Whale Conservation and Protective Study Act(1976)- Requires the protection of whales as an endangered species.
  • Toxic Substances Control Act(1976)- Requires testing of chemicals for health and environmental effects before manufacture and sale.
  • Soil and Water Conservation Act(1977)- Allows for the conservation enhancement of soil, water, and other natural resources.
  • Energy Tax Act(1978)- Provides tax incentives to those who substitute oil and gas for alternative energy sources.


1973 Energy Crisis

Oil consumption was high during the 70's in the US, while production was low. An oil embargo was set in 1973 by Middle Eastern countries on The U.S., due to anger and tensions over U.S. involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflicts. Because of the high consumption rate of oil in the U.S., this outcome of this was compounded. In addition, at this time the United States did not have strong policies on energy consumption. Oil prices drastically increased, leading to long lines at gas stations, and the closing of gas stations from 9 PM Saturdays to 12 AM Sundays. Although gas prices eventually stabilized, the energy crisis resulted in action from the federal government, including a 55 mph national speed limit, gas rationing, and Acts designed to conserve energy, such as the Energy Tax Act of 1978.

1979 Oil Spill: The Burmah Aagate

On November 1, 1979, The Burmah Agate, a motor tanker, collided with The Mimosa, a freighter, at the entrance to Galveston Harbor. An explosion occurred when this happened. The B.A. was struck near a cargo tank, and the oil ignited. Everyone was accounted for on the Mimosa, but 31 out of 37 crew members from the B.A. were missing. Approximately 140 million gallons of oil had spilled into the Bay of Campeche.

Works Cited

"16 USC § 917 - Congressional Findings." LII. Cornell University Law School, n.d. Web. 27 May 2013.

"70's." 70's. Middlebury College, n.d. Web. 27 May 2013.

"1973-74 Oil Crisis." Slaying the Dragon of Debt. The Regents of the University of California, 2011. Web. 27 May 2013.

"BLM National Wild Horse and Burro Program - Legislative History." BLM National Wild Horse and Burro Program - Legislative History. Bureau of Land Management, n.d. Web. 27 May 2013.

"Burmah Agate.” IncidentNews: Burmah Agate. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce, 01 Nov. 1979. Web. 27 May 2013.

"Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA)." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 27 June 2012. Web. 27 May 2013.

"Digest of Federal Resource Laws of Interest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service."Endangered Species Act of 1973. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, n.d. Web. 27 May 2013.

DiTommaso, Gina. "Key Environmental Issues in 1970." Key Environmental Issues in 1970. Global Footprint Network, n.d. Web. 27 May 2013.

"Environmental History Timeline: 1970-1980." Environmental History Timeline: 1970-1980. Radford University, n.d. Web. 27 May 2013.

"Earth Day: The History of A Movement." Earth Day Network. Earth Day Network, n.d. Web. 27 May 2013.

"History of the Clean Air Act" EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 17 Feb. 2012. Web. 27 May 2013.

"Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA)." NOAA Fisheries. National Oceanic and AtmosphericAdministration, 14 Jan. 2013. Web. 27 May 2013.

"Natural Resources Conservation Service." Natural Resources Conservation Service. United States Department of Agriculture, n.d. Web. 27 May 2013.

"Social Studies and History Teacher's Blog." Social Studies and History Teachers Blog. N.p., 27 Apr. 2009. Web. 27 May 2013.