Documerica: The Photos That Changed How the U.S. Saw Pollution
Public interest in addressing pollution more than doubled between 1965 and 1970, with approximately 70 percent of individuals polled in a 1970 Opinion Research Corporation poll saying that they considered air pollution a somewhat or very serious problem (five years prior, only 28 percent of those polled responded that way).
It became clear that the federal government had to intervene. At that point in time, laws on pollution existed at municipal, state, and federal levels, but they by and large went unenforced. Thus, in 1970, President Richard Nixon signed an executive order that called for the establishment of the EPA.
As William Ruckelshaus, the first administrator of the EPA under the Nixon administration, told the Center for Public Integrity, Republicans and Democrats alike came together to support the nascent agency.