April 21, 2006 -- April 22 marks the 36th anniversary of Earth Day, a day of celebration and activism intended to raise awareness of environmental issues. In 1970 the Environmental Teach-In, led by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson and Denis Hayes, helped organize around 20 million demonstrators to show support for a policy agenda focused on these concerns.
Many laws to protect the environment, including the Clean Air Act, were passed by Congress in the wake of the 1970 Earth Day. And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was created to protect the environment and public health.
Several National Academies reports from the past year examine how science and technology can be harnessed to protect the Earth and sustain the diversity and well-being of the life it supports.
Drawing Louisiana's New Map: Addressing Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana discusses the need for a "systemwide" plan to restore Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. Most of the individual projects in a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to reduce losses of coastal wetlands in Louisiana are scientifically sound, but taken together they do not represent the type of integrated, large-scale effort needed for such an undertaking, the report says.
Superfund and Mining Megasites: Lessons from the Coeur d'Alene River Basin examines EPA's scientific and technical decisions in assessing risks to human health and the environment from pollution at a Superfund site in the Coeur d'Alene River Basin. While the study committee found that the agency's decisions about human health have been generally sound, they expressed "substantial concerns" about EPA's proposed strategies for cleaning up and protecting the environment.
Managing Coal Combustion Residues in Mines says that filling mines with the residues of coal combustion is a viable way to dispose of these materials, provided they are placed so as to avoid adverse health and environmental effects. Enforceable federal standards are needed to guide the placement of coal ash in mines to minimize risks, however.