trees around a pond


1969: Environmental Policy Act

Sec. 2 [42 USC § 4321]. The purposes of this Act are: To declare a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man; to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the Nation; and to establish a Council on Environmental Quality.

1979: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established

The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect human health and the environment.


1965: Solid Waste Disposal Act

1970: Resource Recovery Act

1976: Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). This legislation was written with regard to reclamation of energy and materials from solid waste. Introduced hazard waste compliance regulations.

1980: Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) or Superfund. This act was created to protect people from heavily contaminated toxic wastes sites that have been abandoned. This legislation was introduced in response to the Love Canal, NY incident. Sites are listed on the National Priorities List.

1995: Brownfields. The reclamation of land previously used for industrial purposes which has been abandoned and may contain hazardous waste or pollution.


1972: Clean Water Act. This act regulates discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States. It gives the EPA the authority to implement pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry.

1974: Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).

Airpicture of sky

1955: Air Pollution Control Act

1963: Clean Air Act: Addresses suspended particulate matter (SPM), volatile organic compounds (VOC), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Nitrogen Oxides (NO), Sulfur oxides, lead and other heavy metals, ozone, air toxins and radon.

1967: Air Quality Act

1970: Clean Air Act Extension. This is the legislation used today. It authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish national air quality standards and implement action plans for industry sectors.

1977: Clean Air Act Amendment

1987: The Montreal Protocol. Sixty-eight members of the U.N. agree to scale production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) by 50% by 2000.

1990: Clean Air Act Amendment. Title IV: Acid Deposition Control. This amendment addresses acid precipitation such as rain, snow, fog and dust. Acid deposition is any precipitation that is more acidic than the normal pH of rainfall (5.5). Leading contributors are sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides.

1990: Clean Air Act Amendment. Title VI: Stratospheric Ozone Protection. This amendment addresses ozone depleting chemicals such as Carbon Monoxide (CO).


Alternative energy

2005: Energy Policy Act: Provides tax incentives and loan guarantees for energy production of various types.

The California Solar Initiative (CSI) offers a sizable upfront rebate. These rebates usually cover 20–30% of the total system cost. Investments in residential solar electric systems are also eligible for a $2,000 federal tax credit. Solar energy is nonpolluting and nondepleting, but it's variable. An idea is to use solar during daylight light when energy demand is highest. Use traditional sources at night.

Wind energy is a pollution-free, infinitely sustainable form of energy. It doesn’t use fuel; it doesn’t produce greenhouse gasses, and it doesn’t produce toxic or radioactive waste.

Harnessing the power from the natural rise and fall of tides. Not only is this source of energy nondepleting and nonpolluting, but it is nonvariable, meaning it is a steady source.

Hot springs can be tapped into for energy. Also a nonvariable, steady source.

Ethanol: fermentation of starches or sugars (corn). Biodiesel: vegetable oil.

Hydrogen: good, but difficult to extract and explosive.

Fuel cells: hybrid vehicles.

National Renewable Energy Lab Link