How Environmental Policy is Evolving

by Kaci Jones

In the 1900s, people stated realizing that the things they were previously doing, like: turning prairies into cropland, cutting down forests, and hunting animals until extinction, wasn’t exactly what they needed to be doing. The consequences from their actions are starting to quickly catch up to them. During this era, the government was starting to increase protection of the nation’s natural resources that were quickly depleting. Nations forests and parks were starting to be established and management for these recreational areas was also put into place (“Migration”). There were multiple events that were occurring on the coastlines. For example, in New York the United States Supreme Court allowed them to dump sewage into the harbor. If this were to happen today the US Supreme Court would deny access, because people are more aware of the environment around them and would file law suites if they let this happen.

In August of 1922, a National Coast Anti Pollution League was proposed to stop all oil dumping. This is the start of the protection of our coast. When this League was created, New Orleans had reported, “A considerable proportion of the batteries are noticeably polluted with oil. No beach can be considered suitable for recreation. A disastrous fire occurred in the port a year ago, the fire to a considerable extent being spread by oil pollution (“Roaring”).” So you can see the problems we were having, but after this everything started to change. In October 1924, the Oil Pollution Act was passed and then two years later the Public Health Act was passed. These two acts helped tremendously to start the evolution of coastal policies changing, because these acts gave rules to not pollute and gave the people a say in their health and the health of people around polluted areas that can seriously alter their health (“Roaring”).

As the years go on leading up to the present day, the government has became more strict about chemicals that are allowed to leave plants and be exposed to the coast. I feel as if people have a better understanding of how valuable our coasts are and all the resources they provided for us. I believe that the U.S. coastal population, the government, and the environmental are all working together to keep everything on track and to keep the resources coming in, the waters clear, and the people happy.

In dividing the historical events of coastal policies up into episodes, I would probably do it by decade; so much has changed within the last 100 years and getting a good overview by decades would be a good starting point. I feel like showing people where we started in the beginning and what steps were taken throughout the years would be a good start to help people understand the evolution of the coastal policies a little better. Also adding in why these different acts were put into place, including the law suites would also benefit people by showing them why others thought it was injustice and why they wanted these acts to be out into place.

After the Public Health Act in 1926, there are a few more major bombs that hit the coastal population for the best. Going from decade to decade after the 1920s here are the bigger events that lead to the policies we have today and who were the major people who were influential during these decades:

1930’s- National Institute of Health was established in 1930 and Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933 (“Depression”).

1940s- In 1940 was the first time conserving our resources was put into a movie, Bambi, this started the bang in the film and book industry (“WWII”).

1950s- In 1956, the Water Pollution Control Act was passed (“Cold”).

1960s- The opposing of the French to dump radioactive wastes into the Mediterranean Sea was in 1960. In 1963, Senate Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution was created. In 1965, Water Quality Act was passed. Then the Environmental Protection Act was passed in 1969(“Sixties”).

1970s- In 1970, the Council on Environmental Quality was proposed and then Richard Nixon, president at the time, proposed the Environmental Protection Agency. Then in 1972, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act and the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act were all proposed, which was one of the biggest game changing years for our coast lands, which was followed by the Soil and Water Conservation Act in 1977 (“Seventies”).

1980s- In 1981, the Coastal Barriers Resources Act was passed by the US Congress. Then in 1982, the UN World Charter for Nature was passed, it is stated within this that, “All areas of the earth, both land and sea, shall be subject to these principles of conservation (“Eighties”);”

After the 1980s, the previous Acts started to we tweaked slowly and surely so that as technology increased, the regulations increased also. In all the decades, the president at the time and the members of the US Congress are the main people who were influential on the policy making.

 

References:

“Migration and Refugee Policies in the United States and Germany.” Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 50.3 (1996): 25-42. Nexus Learning. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. Web.

“Roaring 1920s.” Environmental History Timeline. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.

“Depression – 1930s.” Environmental History Timeline. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.

“WWII & Postwar 1940-1949.” Environmental History Timeline. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.

“Cold War 1950-59.” Environmental History Timeline. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.

“Sixties 1960-69.” Environmental History Timeline. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.

“Seventies 1970-79.” Environmental History Timeline. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.

“Eighties 1980-89.” Environmental History Timeline. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.

Master Plan

The Master Plan is a plan that has been put together from all three levels of government, local, state, and federal, to protect and restore Louisiana’s coastline after the hurricanes in 2005 hit, both Katrina and Rita.

As the Master Plan was in the process of going through public hearing to get the citizens of coastal Louisiana’s opinions of this plan they learned that some people were extremely happy with the change that was about to occur and then there were some people who deeply disapproved of everything there were going to do.

While looking through the long list of public comments, here are some of the concerns people had for the Master Plan that stood out to me:

  • Why are we restoring the coast when it’s just going to be gone in 20 years?
  • Basis! Only certain people could submit plans, how is that fair?
  • Why is it going to take so long?

Addressing one at a time, we’ll start with the first one. If we as a state don’t do anything about the erosion problem we currently have, then yes it will all be gone in 20 years. But the Master Plan has been implemented to reverse the erosion issues that coastal Louisiana are currently experiencing, and we as Louisianan’s have to fully believe that this plan will work and that we will have our land back in 20 years. Progress has been made and as a community we need to go forward with all spirits high.

Now addressing the second concern, the Master Plan was open on a government webpage asking for plans to be reviews that they can consider to be apart of the Master Plan, meaning that anyone and everyone could have submitted a plan for them to review and either accept or deny.

Addressing the last comment I thought needed to be address. Time. We have let our coastline deplete for multiple years now and that’s really the reason why. We sat, as a state, saying that our coastline was depleted, yet we weren’t doing anything counter active to help offset the effects. Therefore, now that we are starting the process of reversing the issues, we have to correct one thing and let it run its course. We didn’t lose the land over night and we’re not going to gain it back over night either.

I feel that these concerns people had were true concerns and not selfish arguments that others tried arguing. Living in Louisiana we’re all going to have doubts in the system or worries of failure and losing the land we love so much. But as of now, there are scientist that are working harder than ever to ensure land safely and as citizens here we have to trust it and keep living.

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