Competitive Enterprise Institute | 1899 L ST NW Floor 12, Washington, DC 20036 | Phone: 202-331-1010 | Fax: 202-331-0640
June 22, 2009—Today is the 40th
Anniversary of the famous Cuyahoga river fire in Cleveland, Ohio.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is celebrating the anniversary,
because it “led to positive results, including creation of the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency and passage of major environmental laws such as
the Clean Water Act in 1972 [which meant] we paid attention to how much
pollution manufacturers were putting into waterways like the Cuyahoga. The
legislation set limits on pollution, and gave EPA the power to fine industry
for violating those limits.”
Yet this received wisdom
mischaracterizes what happened in 1969 and the reaction to it. Thanks to the work of free-market
environmental scholars like Prof. Jonathan Adler of Case
(a former CEI scholar ), we know the truth about the Cuyahoga River,
which includes facts like:
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Senior Fellow Iain Murray  wrote
about the Cuyahoga River Fire in his 2008 book, “The
Really Inconvenient Truths: Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Don't
Want You to Know About-Because They Helped Cause Them .” Murray said “the Cuyahoga River Fire of 1969
is an environmentalist myth. It is a myth because it was a minor incident, and
it is a myth because it actually demonstrated government's role in
Murray added that “real riparian property rights would have
stopped the fires from ever happening. You don’t spit on your own doorstep.
declared common ownership and invited spitting.”
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