Earth Day 2002 Brings Cause for Celebration and Concerns about Over-Regulation, by Gretchen Randall

BACKGROUND: April 22, 2002 marks the 32nd anniversary of the first Earth Day. Former U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day’s co-founder, modeled Earth Day on anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, called “teach-ins,” that were common on college campuses. As many as 20 million Americans participated in environmental rallies, demonstrations and other activities in the 1970 Earth Day.

Since the first Earth Day, however, the environmental movement has increasingly transformed itself from a largely grassroots, citizen crusade to a professionally-organized, established special interest. Environmental organizations now employ 3,400 full-time employees, including leaders who often make $150,000 or more. Non-profit foundations donate at least $400 million a year to environmental advocacy and research.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: This Earth Day finds our air and water cleaner than it was over 30 years ago while our economy has become much more energy efficient.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: We should be proud of our accomplishments in cleaning our air and water over the last 32 years, but we should recognize the rise in the cost of federal regulations. In 2000, complying with federal regulations cost every American household approximately $8,000. We must work to lower the impact of regulations on small businesses so increasing numbers of jobs are not lost.

DISCUSSION: An Earth Day Fact Kit available at covers the following topics:

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