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CONGRESSIONAL RECORD – SENATE


April 23, 1974


Page 11324


EARTH DAY– 1970 AND 1974


Mr. MUSKIE. Mr. President, on April 22, 1970, I was privileged to participate in the first Earth Week activities which were organized as a national movement by our distinguished colleague from Wisconsin, Senator NELSON.


In preparation for an Earth Day speech which I delivered yesterday, April 22, 1974, at the University of Indiana, I reviewed the speech which I delivered 4 years ago at the Philadelphia Earth Week Rally.


I was struck by the fact that I could have delivered the same speech yesterday; that notwithstanding the legislation we have enacted, and the public awareness which has been stimulated, we have achieved so little in dealing with the problem.


And the little we have achieved has been put in jeopardy by the attacks of those who would use the energy crisis to reestablish the national ethic which I described in the following words 4 years ago:


Man has burst upon the environment like an invader – destroying rather than using, discarding rather than saving, and giving the environment little chance to adapt.


We have depleted our resources and cluttered our environment – and only recently have we been shocked by the enormity of our errors.


As long as Americans could escape the confines of the soot and clutter of our cities, the voices of those who were trapped and the warnings of those who understood were never really heard.

Pollution was isolated by the size and openness of America. A river here, a forest there, a few industrialized cities – these examples of environmental destruction seemed a small price to pay for prosperity.


This was the frontier ethic: America pushing ahead and getting ahead. We had an unlimited future under "manifest destiny."


Now we find that we have over-reached ourselves. The frontier ethic helped us build the strongest nation in the world. But it also led us to believe that our natural and human resources were endless, that our rivers could absorb as much sewage as we could pour into them, that there was automatic, equal opportunity for everyone, that our air would always be clean, and that hunger and poverty were always a temporary condition in America.


Early in the life of our country, we were absorbed in harnessing the energy of a people and the resources of the land and water.


But we are finding today – hopefully in time – that we have done much more than harness our resources: we have conquered them and we are on the verge of destroying them in the process.

We moved and changed and grew so fast that tomorrow came yesterday.


Man has always tended to use up his resources, but never have so many used up so much. We have behaved as if another Creation were just around the corner, as if we could somehow manufacture more land, more air, and more water when we have destroyed what we have.

 

I ask unanimous consent, Mr. President, that the speech of 4 years ago as well as that of yesterday be printed in the RECORD.


There being no objection, the speeches were ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:


A WHOLE SOCIETY

(By U.S. Senator EDMUND S. MUSKIE (Democrat of Maine) at the Philadelphia Earth Week Rally, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, April 22,1970 – 3:30 p.m.)


One hundred and eighty-three years ago, a a small group of men gathered in this city in an effort to bring order out of chaos. They met in the shadow of failure. America had won her independence but was now in danger of breaking up into small and quarrelsome states. Their objective was to build "a more perfect union."


We have met in this city to help build a whole society – for we have seen the birthright of a free nation damaged by exploitation, spoiled by neglect, choked by its own success, and torn by hatred and suspicion.


The Founding Fathers did build "a more perfect union." They created a nation where there was none, and they built a framework for a democratic society which has been remarkable for its successes. We are now concerned with its failures.


We have learned that their creation was not infallible, and that our society is not indestructible.

We have learned that our natural resources are limited and that, unless those limitations are respected, life itself may be in danger.


We have also learned that, unless we respect each other, the very foundations of freedom may be in danger.


And yet we act as though a luxurious future and a fertile land will continue to forgive us all the bad habits which have led us to abuse our physical and our social environment.


If we are to build a whole society – and if we are to insure the achievement of a life worth living – we must realize that our shrinking margins of natural resources are near the bottom of the barrel.


There are no replacements, no spare stocks with which we can replenish our supplies.


There is no space command center, ready to give us precise instruction and alternate solutions for survival on our spaceship earth.


Our nation – and our world – hang together by tenuous bonds which are strained as they have never been strained before – and as they must never be strained again.


We cannot survive an undeclared war on our future.


We must lay down our weapons of self-destruction and pick up the tools of social and environmental reconstruction.


These are the dimensions of the crisis we face:


No major American river is clean anymore, and some are fire hazards.


No American lake is free of pollution, and some are dying.


No American city can boast of clean air, and New Yorkers inhale the equivalent of a pack and a half of cigarettes every day – without smoking.


No American community is free of debris and solid waste, and we are turning to the open spaces and the ocean depths to cast off the products of our affluent society.


We are horrified by the cumulative impact of our waste, but we are told to expect the use of more than 280 billion non-returnable bottles in the decade of the seventies.


Man has burst upon the environment like an invader – destroying rather than using, discarding rather than saving, and giving the environment little chance to adapt.


We have depleted our resources and cluttered our environment – and only recently have we been shocked by the enormity of our errors.


As long as Americans could escape the confines of the soot and clutter of our cities, the voices of those who were trapped and the warnings of those who understood were never really heard.


Pollution was isolated by the size and openness of America. A river here, a forest there, a few industrialized cities – these examples of environmental destruction seemed a small price to pay for prosperity.


This was the frontier ethic: America pushing ahead and getting ahead. We had an unlimited future under "manifest destiny."


Now we find that we have over-reached ourselves. The frontier ethic helped us build the strongest nation in the world. But it also led us to believe that our natural and human resources were endless, that our rivers could absorb as much sewage as we could pour into them, that there was automatic, equal opportunity for everyone, that our air would always be clean, and that hunger and poverty were always a temporary condition in America.


Early in the life of our country, we were absorbed in harnessing the energy of a people and the resources of the land and water.


But we are finding today – hopefully in time – that we have done much more than harness our resources: we have conquered them and we are on the verge of destroying them in the process.


We moved and changed and grew so fast that tomorrow came yesterday.


Man has always tended to use up his resources, but never have so many used up so much. We have behaved as if another Creation were just around the comer, as if we could somehow manufacture more land, more air, and more water when we have destroyed what we have.


We have reached the boundaries of the land, and the tide of our civilization has now washed back into our cities.


Today's frontier is internal and personal. We now face – collectively and individually – a moral frontier.


That frontier is the point at which we are willing to cut back selfish exploitation in favor of selfless conservation.


That frontier is marked by the extent of our concern for future generations. They deserve to inherit their natural share of this earth – but we could pass on to them a physical and moral waste

land.


We have reached a point where (1) man, (2) his environment, and (3) his industrial technology intersect. They intersect in America, in Russia and in every other industrial society in the world. They intersect in every country which is trying to achieve industrial development.


On this day, dedicated to the preservation of man's earth, we confront our deteriorated environment, our devouring technology, and our fellow man. Relative harmony has become the victim of a three-cornered war – a war where everyone loses.


Our technology has reached a point where it is producing more kinds of things than we really want, more kinds of things than we really need, and more kinds of things than we can really live with.


We have to choose, to say no, and to give up some luxuries. And these kinds of decisions will be the acid test of our commitment to a healthy environment.


It means choosing cleaner cars rather than faster cars, more parks instead of more highways, and more houses and more schools instead of more weapons and more wars.


The whole society that we seek is one in which all men live in brotherhood with each other and with their environment. It is a society where each member of it knows that he has an opportunity to fulfill his greatest potential.


It is a society that will not tolerate slums for some and decent houses for others, rats for some and playgrounds for others, clean air for some and filth for others.


It is the only kind of society that has a chance. It is the only kind of society that has a future.


To achieve a whole society – a healthy total environment – we need change, planning more effective and just laws and more money better spent.


Achieving that whole society will cost heavily – in foregone luxuries, in restricted choices, in higher prices for certain goods and services, in taxes, and in hard decisions about our national priorities. It will require a new sense of balance in our national commitments.


Consider the national budget for 1971. That "balanced budget" represent unbalanced priorities.

That budget "balances" $275 million for the SST against $106 million for air pollution control.

That budget "balances" $3.4 billion for the space program against $1.4 billion for housing. And that budget balances $7.3 billion for arms research and development against $1.4 billion for higher education.


It does not make sense to say we cannot afford to protect our environment – just yet.


It does not make sense to say that we cannot afford to win the fight against hunger and poverty – just yet.


It does not make sense to say we cannot afford to provide housing and needed medical care – just yet.


We can afford to do these things, if we admit that there are luxuries we can forego, false security we can do without, and prices we are willing to pay.


I believe that those of you who have gathered here to save the earth are willing to pay the price to save our environment.


I hope, however, that your view of the environment will not be a narrow one.


The environmental conscience which has been awakened in our nation holds great promise for reclaiming our air, our water and our land. But man's environment includes more than these natural resources. It includes the shape of the communities in which he lives: his home, his schools, his places of work, and those who share this planet and this land.


If the environmental conscience which has brought us together this day is to have any lasting meaning for America, it must be the instrument to turn the nation around. If we use our awareness that the total environment determines the quality of life, we can make those decisions which can save our nation from becoming a class-ridden and strife-torn wasteland.


The study of ecology – man's relationship with his environment – should teach us that our relationships with each other are just as intricate and just as delicate as these with our natural environment. We cannot afford to correct our history of abusing nature and neglect the continuing abuse of our fellow man.


We should have learned by now that a whole nation must be a nation at peace with itself.


We should have learned by now that we can have that peace only by assuring that all Americans have equal access to a healthy total environment.


That can mean nothing less than equal access to good schools, to meaningful job opportunities, to adequate health services, and to decent and attractive housing.


For the past ten years we have been groping toward the realization that the total environment is at stake.


We have seen the destructiveness of poverty, and declared a war on it.


We have seen the ravages of hunger, and declared war on it.


We have seen the costs of crime, and declared a war on it.


And now we have awakened to the pollution of our environment, and we have declared another war.


We have fought too many losing battles in these wars to continue this piecemeal approach to creating a whole society.


The only strategy that makes sense is a total strategy to protect the total environment.


The only way to achieve that total strategy is through an Environmental Revolution– a commitment to a whole society.


The Environmental Revolution must be one of laws, not men; one of values, not ideology; and one of achievement, not unfulfilled promises.


We are not powerless to accomplish this change, but we are powerless as a people if we wait for someone else to do it for us.


We can use the power of the people to turn the nation around – to move toward a whole society.


The power of the people is in the ballot box – and we can elect men who commit themselves to a whole society and work to meet that commitment.


The power of the people is in the cash register – and we can resolve to purchase only from the companies that clean themselves up.


The power of the people is in the stock certificate – and we can use our proxies to make industries socially and environmentally responsible.


The power of the people is in the courts – and through them we can require polluters to obey the law.


The power of the people is in public hearings – where we can decide on the quality of the air and the water we want.


And the power of the people is in peaceful assembly – where we can demand redress of. grievances – as we are doing here today and all across the land.


Martin Luther King once said that "Through our scientific and technological genius we have made of this world a neighborhood. Now through our moral and spiritual genius we must make of it a brotherhood."


For Martin Luther King, every day was an Earth Day – a day to work toward his commitment to a whole society. It is that commitment we must keep.



THE ENVIRONMENTAL AGENDA: PAST AND FUTURE

(Remarks by Senator EDMUND S. MUSKIE)


It is a pleasure to be with you this evening to talk about the progress and future of the environmental movement. Some of you may have participated in high school Earth Days in 1970, and are aware of the issues that dominated our discussion at that time.


At this time in 1970, Congress was warming up to a debate on the need to preserve clean air and clean up that which was already polluted. This effort culminated in the Clean Air Act of 1970.


We passed a tough water pollution control law in 1972, enacted the Resource Recovery Act, placed laws on the books to control noise, regulate coastal zone development, protect the public against toxic substances, control ocean dumping.


Now in the spring of 1974 the clock appears to have come full circle. We are once again fighting the issue of clean air, just as we were when the first Earth Day began.


Ever since then, opponents have waited for an opportunity to create an environmental backlash and then exploit it. They have chosen the energy crisis as the issue to fuel that backlash and are now attempting to reverse the environmental gains of the last several years.


The automobile companies who brought you ten miles per gallon now urge that the Clean Air Act be amended;


The oil companies who brought you 60 cents per gallon now urge that the Clean Air Act be amended;


The power companies who brought you their highest rates for small consumers now urge that the Clean Air Act be amended;


The copper companies who brought you lead poisoning in Smeltertown, Texas, now urge that the Clean Air Act be amended; and


The land developers who brought you exurban blight now urge that the Clean Air Act be amended.


They are mobilizing their propaganda efforts to challenge the validity of the environmental standards on the books. I am talking about attacks upon the health basis of the Clean Air Act – and the argument used is that "the public doesn't need and can't afford these goals."


Virtually every major company and industrial sector in America is now pressing forward with this argument. But all the information at hand to date indicates that if these standards are changed at all, they must be strengthened, not weakened. The more we discover about pollutants, the more we come to realize that Americans have suffered for decades from increased colds, increased bronchial attacks, increased heart disease, increased respiratory ailments, and increased death rates because we did not understand and did not make the proper connection between pollutants and public health.


To date, these attempts have failed to generate broad public support – and for a very simple reason which has not escaped the attention of the would-be exploiters.


The people are aware of what is at stake and will resist such exploitation when given the chance!


Predictably, therefore, virtually every proposal discussed in Washington to weaken the Clean Air Act now carries the direct threat of eliminating local involvement in the decision-making process:


They would deny localities the right to control decisions to locate energy facilities in local areas.


They would deny local bodies the right to vote local segments of highway networks.


They would deny people at the grass roots the right of determining whether or not their community should be altered forever by the construction of an oil refinery.


In short, the proponents of the environmental backlash would like to preempt local decision- making and deny public access to decisions that may totally change the nature of communities.


The energy crisis has shocked us into an awareness of the fact that we are moving from any age of apparently unlimited abundance to one of potential scarcities and shortages – shortages of air and water, shortages of energy, shortages of a growing list of essential resources.


Those shortages will trigger intense competition for such resources and for the right to decide how such resources should be used and allocated.


The effect can be to impose limits upon our freedom – and it is to that subject that I would like to devote the remainder of this talk.


These days when a political speaker mentions freedom, his listeners naturally expect to hear about wiretapping, snooping, invasions of privacy, government lawbreaking and the other evils we have come to lump under the heading of Watergate. I feel strongly about those abuses of government authority. I have spoken of them often and angrily.


But the freedoms I have in mind are the diversity of choice Americans expect in their lives; the independence of action that has made it possible for individuals to better their communities by bettering themselves; the latitude in social and economic behavior that comes from knowing that there is always a new place to go to, that there is more land to farm, more wood to cut, and more water to drink than we need.


Our political liberty is unique in the history of the world because it has been supported by a natural abundance that was unique. That abundance called to our ingenuity, and a uniquely American imagination, an experimental spirit, answered back with the courage to exploit our vast resources.


You are familiar with the bleak mathematics of our energy supplies and the demand we put on them. You know that with six percent of the world's population, we consume 35 percent of its total energy. You know that our 111 million vehicles consume six million barrels of gasoline a day, one-third of all the petroleum products we use in a year – an amount roughly equal to what we now must import from abroad. And you know how wasteful that use is – with automobiles shooting 87 percent of their energy intake right out their exhaust pipes. You know that per passenger mile, a car uses five times as much fuel as a train and six times as much as a bus.


You also know that while our population doubled in the last fifty years, our use of energy quadrupled. You know that the rate of increase in energy consumption in recent years has been running at five percent annually. And you know that if that rate continues, we are likely to be reliant on foreign oil to supply half our consumption in 1980.


You probably know as well that we depend on imports for many of the minerals that are crucial to our industrial processes. Eighty percent or more of the chromium, manganese, bauxite, tin and nickel we use now comes from abroad. By the end of the century experts estimate, we will be importing more than half the tungsten, zinc, copper, iron, lead and sulfur we need.


When you look behind those calculations, you see that they rest on two assumptions. One is that our growth will continue more or less at present rates. And the other is that raw materials will continue to be available to sustain such growth indefinitely.


Neither assumption is realistic. There is increasing evidence that accessible supplies of many vital materials are dwindling as the world's appetite for them grows.


Abundant coal, some argue, is a viable alternative energy source as oil becomes scarce and costly. But stripmining of coal ruins land that could be used for farming. And conversion of coal into energy requires vast amounts of water we do not have. A resource that is too expensive to use either in economic or social terms is not a reserve on which we can plan to draw extensively.


Once we recognize that resources are limited either by their availability in nature or by the environmental cost of converting them to our consumption, then we have to recognize that growth, too, must be limited. And the question to ask is how those limits will be fixed.


Will those limits be imposed by the rich nations using their power over the poor to sustain the existing gap between standards of living? The oil embargo has answered that question.


Many economically backward countries, in fact, control the mineral deposits the industrial world needs. They will not give them up cheaply, and they can be expected to insist that the advanced nations pay the bill for the catch-up efforts of the have-nots.


Then will limits be set only after population and per capita consumption have created demands so far beyond supply that anarchy and social collapse bring the world back to reality through catastrophe?


Such destructive events occur often in nature when herds of animals grow too large for their feeding grounds. Mass starvation follows, and the surviving, smaller animal population, having lost much of its supporting pasture through overgrazing, stabilizes at a lower level than it had in an earlier, healthier state.


Men, however, are social animals, capable of forethought, self-discipline and planning. Since we are blessed with that capacity, I do not fear that only disaster will make us use it.


But I do recognize – and this is the theme I stated at the beginning – that the imposition of limits on our growth inevitably requires limits on our freedoms. And the real question is how a democratic government can set those limits with the consent of the governed.


Let me just suggest some of the obvious – even easy – restrictions that would become part of the pattern of our lives if we just set as our goal a 2.5 percent per year increase in our energy demand half the present growth rate. We would have to cut the average weight of our cars from 3,500 pounds to 2,900 pounds. We would have to legislate standards for space heating in new buildings and restrict commercial lighting by law. And we would have to keep the population growth rate in this country at its present level.


Some of those decisions – really allocations of scarce energy – could be made by the government and the market without enormous difficulty. Consumers are already signalling their preference for smaller cars to the automobile makers, but customers and manufacturers alike might agree that a law banning the construction of large automobiles would represent an intolerable intrusion on free choice. And a family planning law prohibiting more than two children per couple would be dictatorial.


Yet, if our goal is to be more ambitious than that of cutting growth in half – if our need is a system of resource replacement equal to resource consumption – then no easy conservation measures will serve. An economy grounded on the necessity to recycle everything from solar energy to human waste will require the toughest kind of restrictions on consumption, the most drastic changes in behavior.


Imagine laws that require you not just to separate your garbage into three or four different categories – metal, glass, wood products, and animal fats, for instance – but to deliver bottles and cans to central community pick-up points and to make your own household wastes into compost for fertilizer. Or imagine whole neighborhoods being put on timetables governing when housewives can and cannot run their washing machines. Or imagine gas rationing that makes it impossible for you to use your private car to take vacations more than 150 miles from your home. Or imagine downtown parking restrictions that force you to use public instead of private transportation during the work week.


The fact is that such restrictions are imaginable. Scarcity makes them conceivable, just as abundance made the wastefulness of our past practices tolerable.


Any such restrictions – and they could span the range of social choices from the kind of car you drive to the kind of house you live in to the opportunity you have to change your job and your home – run completely counter to all our American precepts of liberty. Those values define the freedom which distinguishes our Nation and our history from that of the rest of the world. They have made our society open and our lives rich, and we cannot afford to lose them.


Yet we know that we must conserve, we must restrict, we must limit ourselves and the use of our resources. The facts give us no choice if we are to survive and prosper. The only way to balance the preservation of our freedom with the preservation of our planet is to adopt a new ethic, a style of cooperation in allocating resources that insures that we join in deciding the confines of our lives.


The alternatives are either coercion from above – based on the physical reality of scarcity – or cooperation from below – based on our common appreciation that independence cannot be total, that self-sufficiency in a mass society on a crowded globe is self-delusion.


Nine years ago, just before he died, Adlai Stevenson coined the idea of a "spaceship earth" when he said, "We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil." We know now that spaceships can support life only as long as they use and reuse every life-sustaining element they carry in what is called a "steady state." We know that any waste, whether accidental or selfish, in such an environment destroys the steady state and dooms the ships to disaster.


On our planet, as on a spaceship, we must implement the concept of a steady state by accepting our mutual dependence. Politically, that acceptance means an active role for every citizen in analyzing the choices to be made and in helping make the choices which offer the most people the greatest opportunities for valuable lives. The decisions will be difficult and painful, but just because of that, they must be completely understood in advance and widely shared.


I know that the phrase "participatory democracy" was recently regarded as a radical utopian concept. I would leave you tonight with the thought that participation and cooperation are the only means to preserve democracy under the imperatives of scarcity.


When the poet, Archibald MacLeish, first saw the pictures of our planet taken from the moon, he wrote:


"To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful, in the eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold – brothers who know they are truly brothers."


Brotherhood is both a form of freedom and a promise of sacrifice. As we learn that our planet is a fragile physical support, we learn as well that cooperation is what holds it and us together. We learn to see ourselves as free men able to give up that part of our freedom which is license, and able to give it up by our own choice in order to preserve freedom for all men.