[Hurricane Ike] Galveston Island, TX, September 16, 2008 -- Members of the National Guard trained in hazardous material disposal check barrels that have washed up on the beach and seawall area of Bolivar Penninsula near Galveston. The military is working with the EPA to locate material deemed to be hazardous. Photo by Patsy Lynch/FEMA
Photographs Relating to Disasters and Emergency Management Programs, Activities, and Officials
In the 1950s and through the 1960s public concern about the impact that human activity could have on the environment increased. President Nixon signed NEPA into law on January 1, 1970. NEPA required that a detailed statement of environmental impacts be prepared for all major federal actions significantly affecting the environment. Six months later, On July 9, 1970, Nixon proposed an executive reorganization that consolidated many environmental responsibilities of the federal government under one agency, a new Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA was created 90 days before it had to operate, and officially opened its doors on December 2, 1970. The burning Cuyahoga River in 1969 had led to a national outcry. A federal grand jury investigation of water pollution allegedly being caused by about 12 companies in northeastern Ohio began leading to a filing of a lawsuit against the Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation for discharging substantial quantities of cyanide into the Cuyahoga River near Cleveland. Congress enacted the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, known as the Clean Water Act. Since that, EPA's mission is to protect human health and the environment. Our priorities are Making a Visible Difference in Communities across the Country, Addressing Climate Change and Improving Air Quality, Taking Action on Toxics and Chemical Safety, Launching a New Era of State, Tribal and Local Partnerships, Embracing EPA as a High Performing Organization, and Working Toward a Sustainable Future.