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MO Marks 40 Years of Earth Day

April 22, 2010

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Celebrations for Earth Day have been going strong all week long in Missouri, starting last weekend in Kansas City with a walk and continuing through the end of the week with festivals in Jefferson City, Columbia and St. Louis. Plus, college students are hosting electronics recycling events, plant sales and 'bike-in' free movies.

Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. The late Gaylord Nelson founded the event when he was a U.S. Senator. His daughter, Tia Nelson, says a lot has been accomplished since then, following passage of the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act.

"If you were born after 1970, or 1980, you have an expectation for clean water and clean air that was not a given prior to the first Earth Day."

Nelson says the grassroots-type celebrations in Missouri are exactly the kinds of events her father envisioned, but at the same time, he wanted the environment to be put in the political spotlight.

Environmental and public lands protection often raise concerns about costs to businesses and impacts on the economy. Mike Matz, director of the Campaign for America's Wilderness, says the environment and economy shouldn't be "either/or," since they are intertwined.

"Really, when people end up saving the environment, they find that it does wonders for the economy - locally and nationally."

Listings of Missouri Earth Day events are available at www.columbiaearthday.org, www.stlouisearthday.org and www.earthdaykc.org.

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO