Environmental Law Blog
In November 1962, Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin) had an idea. He approached Attorney General Robert Kennedy and President John F. Kennedy with his idea-President Kennedy should go on a national conservation tour in an effort to bring environmental issues into the political "limelight." The Attorney General and President Kennedy liked the idea, so the President embarked on a five-day, eleven-state conservation tour in September 1963. President Kennedy's conservation tour did not blossom into the environmental windfall for which Senator Nelson had hoped, so he tried again. At a conference in Seattle, Washington in September 1970, Senator Nelson announced that he would participate in a grassroots demonstration on behalf of the environment during the spring of 1970. He invited every American to participate. More than 20 million demonstrators gathered in local communities to bring political attention to environmental issues on April 22, 1970. In response to Earth Day's success and the growing consciousness of environmental problems, Congress amended the Clean Air Act. Some critics said that Congress reacted too quickly by rushing regionally-based ambient air quality standards through the legislative process. Others maintained that the Clean Air Act corrected previous pollution control strategies that had failed and effectively brought air pollution control to the forefront of Congressional interest. What do you think? Did Senator Nelson achieve his original goal? Does Earth Day generate sustained environmental and conservation interest? Was the Clean Air Act, Earth Day's first major "result," a success?