Energy, the Environment, and Public Policy: Issues for the 1990s

By David L. McKee | Go to book overview

1 A Preliminary Overview

DAVID L. MCKEE

The industrial complexes of the United States have been no stranger to negative environmental impacts. From the steel mills that circle the southern tip of lake Michigan to similar installations in Yougstown, Pittsburgh, and as far south as Birmingham, generations of workers have made the trade-offs required to secure their livelihoods. Wide-ranging areas of Appalachia still bear the scars of deep pit mining, not to mention more recent strip mining operations. Rivers have been fouled, the Great Lakes endangered, and wide reaches of woodlands in Eastern Canada and New England have been impacted by atmospheric pollutants bearing industrial labels.

Today with many of the smokestacks of the steel belt long since dormant, environmental difficulties are still rampant. Granting that Lake Erie has been reborn, that Pittsburgh now encompasses an aesthetically pleasing urban environment, and that river systems are returning to normal, some of the old environmental issues still persist, while newer, even more pernicious ones, are evolving.

Toxic waste dumps have emerged that appear to have lifethreatening potential for residents. The public policy issues relating to who should be involved in cleanup operations, much less the direction that such operations should take, have not been solved. By and large the compensation and/or resettlement of impacted residents has not been dealt with adequately. If existing problems in this vein have not been addressed, the issue of prevention seems even more nebulous. Few locations appear safe from potential impacts-- witness the recently discovered dumpsite within the confines of the Cleveland Hopkins Airport.

Dumping problems do not end with the burial of industrial chemicals. Medical wastes have been found along Atlantic and

-3-

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