Tap waterDec. 16, 1811:  The first of three major earthquakes strikes the New Madrid Fault Zone in the central U.S.  Despite the strength of this quake, and two more the following January and February, casualties and property damage are light in the mostly-uninhabited center of the country.

Dec. 16, 1974:  U.S. President Gerald R. Ford signs the The Safe Drinking Water Act, providing some unprecedented protection to the nation’s drinking water supply.

Dec. 16, 2004:  Aaron Speed is arrested for arson in the December 6 burning of a home construction site he is guarding.  The arrest, and that of four others for the $10 million fire in the Hunters Brooke subdivision in Maryland, ends ten days of speculation that “eco-terrorists” set the fires.   Speed and the others are convicted and sentenced to five years or more each in what is determined to be a racially-motivated hate crime.

Dec. 16, 2007:  Delegates wrap up plans to negotiate a climate agreement by 2009 during a meeting in Bali, Indonesia.  Environmentalists say the plans are weak.  They single out the U.S. delegation for criticism, saying the U.S. has been a major obstacle to meaningful climate action.

Dec. 16, 2008:  A report presented at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting in San Francisco warns that rapid melting in the Arctic is underway, and that the release of methane from the permafrost and ocean floor will worsen the effects of climate change.

Photo: Dottie Mae/Flickr

This feature is compiled by Peter Dykstra, an MNN contributor and publisher of Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate.

December 16
The Safe Drinking Water Act is signed, U.N. delegates plan to address climate change in 2009, and scientists express concerns over methane release from melting