Earth Day 2010: 40 Years and Going Strong

On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, organizations and communities across the nation will come together to celebrate, honor and protect the earth while promoting sustainability and environmental awareness.

“Forty years ago, Americans across the nation took up a call for cleaner air, safer water and unpolluted land,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson in an Earth Day message. “They saw that to keep our families healthy, to build clean communities and to make America stronger for the future, we needed to protect and preserve our environment.”

EPA will hold free Earth Day events on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., April 24 and 25, where Jackson and senior EPA officials will be in attendance. Exhibits will include an environmental crime scene forensics demonstration; cutting-edge automotive technology; climate change habitat loss exhibits; environmental videos; an interactive environmental hazards booth for kids; backyard composting demonstrations; a Chesapeake Bay water model; and more.

“As we look to the past, we are also focused on the future,” Jackson said. “The EPA is strongly committed to protecting and preserving our country's environment through taking action on climate change; improving air quality; ensuring chemical safety; cleaning up our communities; protecting America's waters; working for environmental justice; and building strong state and tribal partnerships.”

Clean Energy Manufacturing Jobs

To mark the Earth Day 40th anniversary, the United Steelworkers (USW) arranged for seven workers from industrial states to meet with members of Congress on the importance of manufacturing jobs in a clean energy economy.

“It’s essential that as we transition to a cleaner economy and create new jobs, we don't forget existing American manufacturing workers and the role they can and are already serving in the clean energy economy,” said USW President Leo W. Gerard.

“As Congress prepares clean energy legislation, they must ensure mechanisms are included that spur investment, research and development in clean energy manufacturing,” he added.

Gerard expects the legislation to encourage domestic sourcing, production of clean energy component parts, plus other provisions – such as transition assistance and an effective border measure to allow energy intensive industries and workers to compete successfully on a global level.

The seven USW workers are from Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Minnesota, states Gerard said are critical to the passage of clean energy legislation.

“Every one of our members on Capitol Hill today are representative of clean energy, or green jobs. We must secure a place for them and their industries in this economy going forward,” Gerard said.

“Green the Capitol”

In advance of Earth Day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi discussed the “Green the Capitol” initiative, which she established in 2007 in an effort to make the U.S. House of Representatives a national leader in energy efficiency and conservation, and unveiled a new energy-efficient LED lighting system in the Rayburn House Office Building cafeteria.

“Forty years ago, a group of activists, pioneers, and committed citizens marked the first Earth Day – a time to recommit ourselves to protecting the planet, preserving our natural resources, and building a brighter future,” Pelosi said.

“Three years ago, House Democrats launched our ‘Green the Capitol’ initiative, ensuring that our nation’s leaders remain responsible stewards of our environment,” she added. “Today, in that same tradition, we gather to renew that pledge, taking one step forward in our effort to make this Capitol of the United States, this beacon of freedom of liberty, a shining example of sustainability.”

Pelosi explained that the Rayburn cafeteria building would be the first government facility to combine the energy efficient LED lighting with advanced building controls, with total energy savings reaching 80 percent.

“Forty years after celebrating the first Earth Day, we will pledge to continue our efforts on behalf of the planet, building on our achievements, and leaving a legacy of sustainability to future generations,” Pelosi said. “It is, as with all that we do here, first and foremost about our children and our grandchildren and our responsibility to them.”

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