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What America looked like before the EPA, in photos

posted by Tim Carmody   Mar 12, 2018

Popular Science has a series of photos taken by EPA staff in the early years of the agency after it was formed in the 1970s, that have since been digitized.

It’s pretty grim stuff: abandoned cars in Jamaica Bay, broken candy-glass unreturnable bottles everywhere, and one mill after another belching out smoke and dumping refuse in the rivers.

marc_st_gil_the_atlas_chemical_company_belches_smoke_across_pasture_land_in_foreground._061972_0.jpg
The Atlas Chemical Company, by Marc St. Gil

charles_steinhacker_-_outflow_pipe_6_of_the_oxford_paper_company_will_at_rumford_._061973.jpg
Oxford Paper Company, by Charles Steinhacker

william_strode_-_burning_barge_on_the_ohio_river_may_1972.jpg
Burning barge on the Ohio River, by William Strode

erik_calonius_-_mary_workman_holds_a_jar_of_undrinkable_water_that_comes_from_her_well_and_has_filed_a_damage_suit_against_the_hanna_coal_company_._101973.jpg
Mary Workman holds a jar of undrinkable water from her well, and has filed suit against the Hanna Coal Company - by Erik Calonius


Given that there’s been a renewed, serious push this year to dismantle or undermine the EPA, it’s worth revisiting just why we needed an agency to protect the environment to begin with.