Vintage photos taken by the EPA reveal what America looked like before pollution was regulated
At the same time, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has reportedly spent much of his term meeting with executives and lobbyists from companies and industries regulated by the EPA. Many reports also suggest that Pruitt's primary aim is to eliminate environmental protections and dismantle much of the regulatory agency.
Under Pruitt, the EPA has already reversed a ban on a pesticide that can harm children's brains, and moved to rescind the Clean Water Rule, which clarified the Clean Water Act to prohibit industries from dumping pollutants into streams and wetlands. The agency has also reportedly begun an initiative to challenge climate science, among other rollbacks. Some of these moves have been legally challenged, but others are already in effect.If Pruitt succeeds in his goal to roll back a significant portion of the rules that protect air and water, we'd return to the state the US was in before these things were regulated.
The EPA was founded in 1970, and soon thereafter began a photo project called Documerica that captured more than 81,000 images showing what the US looked like from 1971 to 1977. More than 20,000 photos were archived and at least 15,000 have been digitized by the National Archives.
Here's a selection of those photos, many of which show what the US looked like without the air and water protections that exist today.