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News Releases from Region 10

EPA at 50: Celebrating 50 Years of Earth Day in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest

Contact Information: 
Suzanne Skadowski (

EPA At 50

SEATTLE - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reflects on 50 years of Earth Day; EPA’s beginning and the environmental progress America has made. In 1970, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson helped start Earth Day to bring national attention to the environmental challenges of the time, inspiring 22 million Americans to take part in demonstrations urging action for clean air, land and water. Born in the wake of elevated concern about environmental pollution, EPA was established in 1970 to combine in one agency a variety of federal research, monitoring, standard-setting and enforcement activities to ensure environmental protection. Since its inception, EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people.

“Earth Day is a both a celebration and a time to reflect,” said Chris Hladick, EPA Region 10 Regional Administrator in Seattle. “A time to celebrate the hard-fought progress and achievement of both the public and EPA’s dedicated workforce, but also an opportunity to reflect on what it means to stay the course. EPA’s Region 10 welcomes the commitment and tenacity of our state, tribal and local partners as we continue our drive to protect the water we drink, the air we breathe and the land we call home here in the Pacific Northwest.”

Over the last 50 years, all environmental indicators across the nation have improved and continue to improve. For example:

  • In 1970, over 40% of the nation’s drinking water systems failed to meet basic health standards.
  • Today, over 92% of community water systems meet all health-based standards.
  • America continues to lead in clean air progress by reducing the six main criteria air pollutants by 73%.
  • The nation has doubled to 86% the number of low-income communities achieving attainment with EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards since 2008.
  • EPA’s successful Superfund and Brownfields programs are bringing opportunity back to communities.

Since the first Earth Day in 1970, EPA has played an important role in hosting, coordinating and participating in the yearly event. As we continue to observe CDC guidance to slow the spread of COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, this year EPA is offering ways to participate in Earth Day activities and environmental education online and through EPA social media channels, including at-home activities for families.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and the EPA, we invite everyone to participate by drawing pictures and making signs about Earth Day to hang in home windows to celebrate with neighbors and their community. A printable sign is also available online. Those who wish to share pictures of their artwork are welcome to do so on social media using the hashtags #EarthDayAtHome, #EarthDay2020 and #EPAat50.

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