Before 1970, when the first Earth Day occurred, no federal laws barred companies from releasing toxic chemicals into the air and water. Today, that seems almost difficult to imagine.

As people celebrate Earth Day’s 40 anniversary today, USA TODAY takes a look backward and shows how much environmental progress has occurred. In the animated video, Mother Nature Network captures the highlights.

Originally posted by Rich Whittle on April 22, 2010 in Ideas.

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