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Scott: Earth Day Marks 39 Years of Progress

April 22, 2009

Washington D.C. – Few Iowans can recall the time when there were no water treatment plants and raw sewage was dumped directly into Iowa waterways, and when coal-fired furnaces were commonplace, leaving soot on everything in Iowa cities. Doug Scott, policy director for the Campaign for America's Wilderness, was in the midst of the early conservation movement when he helped coordinate the first Earth Day. He says even before that first observance 39 years ago today, Iowans were leaders in incorporating environmental integrity into the everyday lives of the people of the state.

"States like Iowa were in the forefront, with strong fish and wildlife protections, and state parks. "

Scott says that, in the years after the first Earth Day, the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and Endangered Species Act were all passed. He sees addressing climate change as the next big issue.

"We must decide how to use more renewables, how to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and how in all of those choices to pour less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere."

He says that, since the first Earth Day, ordinary Americans have helped to designate 100 million acres as protected wilderness, including another two million acres added to the National Wilderness Preservation System just a few weeks ago.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA