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1969: santa barbara inspires earth day.

In 1969, a major oil spill in Santa Barbara convinced Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson to increase public awareness about the ill-effects of air and water pollution. His movement to educate students across the country about the need to save the environment led to the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970. Today, millions of Americans join rallies and events to protest against environmental degradation. Nelson’s agenda also had a major impact on the government: just three years after Earth Day’s inception, the Environmental Protection Agency was created to formally protect the environment against abuse.