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6. Political Change
About this Lecture
In this module, we explore how Republican and Democrat views on the environment began to split in the 1970s. At first Republicans and Democrats were equally enthusiastic about environmentalism because their constituents expressed high levels of concern about it. However, by the late 1970s, many Republican politicians were becoming skeptical because they saw the EPA as a massive, slow-moving bureaucracy that inhibited enterprise. They argued that it stifled economic growth while burdening citizens with more taxes and more regulation. Westerners were especially skeptical, since the EPA was run from Washington, thousands of miles from their homes and not always well informed about local conditions. The CERCLA (“Superfund”) legislation, designed to clean up toxic waste sites, got a particularly bad reputation for spending hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars for only marginal safety gains. Most of the money did go to lawyers who negotiated complicated settlements. Democrats, by contrast, welcomed the greater protection that EPA regulations provided to vulnerable citizens, such as those at Love Canal, New York, a suburb with dangerous levels of chemical contamination.
In this course, Professor Patrick Allitt (Emory University) explores how the issue of the Environment and Natural Resources were dealt with during the period 1968-1980. In the first module, we will examine how in the late 1960s environmentalism became a mass movement in the United States. We will then turn to see how politicians responded to this movement. In the third module, we will see how American views on the environment changed when the economy began to slow in the 1970s. We will then turn to look at the history of nuclear power in the US and how it’s growth slowed after the Three Mile Island accident. After this we turn to the issue of natural resources and examine how academics disagreed over this issue. In the penultimate module, we will explore how Republican and Democrat views on the environment began to splinter in the 1970s. In the final module, we will explore the policies of Ronald Reagan towards the environment.
Patrick N. Allitt is the Cahoon Family Professor of American History at Emory University. He specialises in American intellectual, environmental, and religious history; and has authored seven books, including A Climate of Crisis: America in the Age of Environmentalism.
Cite this Lecture
Allitt, P. (2021, November 18). US History – The Environment and Natural Resources, 1968-80 - Political Change [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/us-history-the-environment-and-natural-resources-1968-80/political-change-99449a57-9395-4ee8-8822-2ac72128aa4c
Allitt, Patrick. "US History – The Environment and Natural Resources, 1968-80 – Political Change." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 18 Nov 2021, https://massolit.io/courses/us-history-the-environment-and-natural-resources-1968-80/political-change-99449a57-9395-4ee8-8822-2ac72128aa4c