The Clean Air Act


Moonrise over Hernandez is one of Ansel Adams’ most famous photographs, of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Northern New Mexico. I grew up looking at those mountains and spent a summer as a wilderness ranger  there.

But by the 1960’s, the air was filthy with smoke from the Four Corners Power Plant. The plume from that plant was the only man-made feature Apollo astronauts could see from space.

I was angry about this and worked to get the Clean Air Act passed, which forced Arizona Public Service to put electrostatic precipitators on their smoke stacks. The air is much cleaner now.


Most of my rangering was done right behind that peak. An incredibly beautiful place, which has had meters of snow this month.


Easy to see why Oppenheimer chose this spot for the Manhattan Project.

About Tony Heller

Just having fun
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14 Responses to The Clean Air Act

  1. Joseph says:

    In before Hope says you’re still a paid oil industry talking point pusher.

  2. gator69 says:

    I remember when smog was a real problem here in the US, especially Los Angeles. But after decades of work serious smog days in LA have gone from hundreds per year to just a few, and my local Urban Jungle has zero smog days now.

    • Ernest Bush says:

      Back in the early 90’s I remember traveling to LA and being shocked at the amount of pollution on the freeway as I travelled with a group. The air really was reddish brown. It got thicker as we travelled, then suddenly we burst through a wall near Hollywood and the air looked crystal clear. An ocean breeze had sprung up and was pushing back the polluted air. Twenty years later the difference has been startling. In the 70’s my wife and I visited Disneyland for the first time. I do not remember the smog being like that, but maybe it was the enchantment of Disneyland, or the wind was blowing the right direction. Maybe it was the unleaded gasoline, also, but that’s another discussion.

      • Hugh K says:

        I remember the same thing back in the late 60’s. We drove down from San Fran and could tell by the air when we were approaching LA. Not just an LA thing though. I remember around the same time Pittsburg was just as bad if not worse….kind of like Beijing now.
        Good news is that people like Tony actually did something about these areas and Pittsburg is now a gorgeous city and has been so for many decades now – similar to Tony’s account of the recovery of the Four Corners Power Plant area.
        With the non-problem of CAGW, there necessarily can be no solution to a non-problem. Just young minds with no historical knowledge intent on achieving planet saving status for no other reason than personal adulation from others. They aren’t true environmentalists, just suckers…

  3. ccglea says:

    I remember when we had ozone alerts many times during the summer here in SW Ohio. Can’t remember when the last one was, but it’s been a while.

  4. daveandrews723 says:

    The cleaning up of the country’s air and waterways has been a remarkable achievement by government over the past 50 years.

    • Ernest Bush says:

      Too bad there were no restrictions put in place to restrict the EPA to the original mandate.

      • Gail Combs says:

        Too bad they didn’t stick to using Criminal Trespass. However criminal trespass had it’s teeth pulled when the Robber Barons convinced the courts “Pollution is the Price of Progress” so the courts refused to bring to trial or convict. I remember that excuse being trotted out from back in the 1960s but good luck finding anything on the web.

      • KTM says:

        Yes, today’s EPA is the personification of “mission creep”.

  5. Steve Case says:

    We toured China and Tibet in 2011. Even Lhasa in Tibet had smog from ceremonial yak butter candles burning in shrines scattered around the city.

  6. KTM says:

    20 years ago when people actually cared about pollution, “clean coal” was all the rage. Utah and other nearby areas are the Saudi Arabia of clean coal, but it was all locked up by the Clinton administration, angering pretty much everyone in the area including environmentalists.

    Rather than develop our own natural resources, the US decided to import hundreds of millions of tons of “clean coal” from indonesia. Now the Alarmists post pictures of vent towers on cold mornings billowing out water vapor to show “carbon pollution”. They use IR cameras to measure heat released from tailpipes and jet engines and call it “carbon pollution”. They truly have no shame.

  7. emsnews says:

    Way back in 1970 I drove through Pittsburgh…this was before we shipped all our steel making to Asia…and the air pollution from poorly burned coal was very thick. It coated everything. To read a street sign, I had one of my passengers get out periodically to clean off signs so we could read them.

    We then stayed near the campus of the university there which is on a series of hills and we could look down on the city, the steel mills were all on the river below us…and the sunrise in morning made everything utterly golden as it shone on the coal dust from the chimneys.

    Very bad for the health, by the way.

  8. tabnumlock says:

    “Easy to see why Oppenheimer chose this spot for the Manhattan Project.”

    An odd place to practice the incineration of central Europe.

  9. I helped a power plant builder by developing improved pollutant removal materials. I and my laboratory have helped address corrosion problems in smoke stack scrubbers for several customers.

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