The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the primary federal law regulating solid and hazardous waste, was signed into law on Oct. 21, 1976. Its 45 years of life have profoundly changed the American landscape. But its provision will be needed again as proponents of the Green New Deal (GND) blindly advocate trillions of dollars for clean energy without addressing the waste impacts of the projects.
Prior to the RCRA's enactment, waste was an afterthought to American industry. Waste was dumped in pits, ponds, lagoons and roadsides, and burned in open air. Rivers were on fire. Waste was managed by local governments with little knowledge of the issue. Only California had a comprehensive waste management plan. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could identify only 50 persons in 25 states who were fulltime waste managers.
The RCRA changed waste management overnight. It created a cradle-to-grave regulatory structure for the generation, transportation, treatment and disposal of hazardous waste, established guidelines for managing municipal waste, banned open dumping, transformed the recycling industry and imposed significant criminal and civil penalties on violators.