Video: Why The Environmental Protection Agency Is So Important

Last week marked the 38-year anniversary of Nixon’s departure from the White House. And while historians will mostly remember the former president within the context of the Watergate scandal, Nixon also left a much more important legacy: protecting the environment.

Yes, Nixon founded the Environmental Protection Agency, created the first Earth Week, and signed the original Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act during his presidency. (For more, check out this remembrance from Climate Central’s Michael Lemonick).

A lot of people forget that conservation and environmental concerns were once a core part of the Republican party.

Perhaps even more surprising to some people given today’s ferocious attacks on basic environmental protections, U.S. GDP has grown 200 percent since the founding of the EPA while the most common pollutants (ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and lead) have fallen 63 percent.

However, even though history has shown that strong environmental regulations go hand in hand with economic growth, some politicians are mindlessly attacking even the most basic protections. The mini-documentary below, produced by filmmaker Erick Stoll, lays out an excellent case for why these attacks are so short-sighted: