Excellent commentary. Going from the theoretical to the practical, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Surface Mine Act are all examples of social conscience realized through legislative actions from a time of a more representative governance responding to popular demand. Now nothing of any consequence regarding environmental responsibility will even get introduced in Congress, let alone passed, and any government action in that direction is thrust upon what dedicated experts are left at EPA or to the whims of the sitting POTUS.
It was the denuding of my home in a three-county area by strip mining that awakened my political conscience as a teenager. I was ready and beginning preparations to commit some eco-terrorism. I wasn't fully aware of the political developments preparing the Surface Mine Act, and was relieved when it did for preventing what surely would have been a short-lived and unsuccessful campaign. It was the passage of these three environmental common sense acts that made me believe that representative democracy can, and does on some occasions, work.
I also find it worthy to note, as I have done here several times, that these acts of environmental responsibility were accomplished at the height of the Cold War. And when I hear Clinton say no we can't or a whacked-out Cruz say no, we won't, I just have to marvel at the completeness of the corruption realized through capitalism.