Incandescent bulbDec. 8, 1993:  U.S. President Bill Clinton signs the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) into law.  The pact with Canada and Mexico creates the world’s largest free trade zone but draws protests from labor unions and environmentalists, who say that NAFTA will drain jobs out of American factory towns and will lower environmental standards.

Dec. 8, 2008:  The EU votes to ban the bulb:  Incandescent light bulbs will be phased out by 2012 and replaced with compact fluorescents and other more efficient lighting. The EU projects a 10 to 15 percent energy savings and an annual 50 euro reduction in energy costs per household. The phaseout was completed on Sept. 1, 2012.

Dec. 8, 2008:  USA Today launches an investigative series, "The Smokestack Effect." Reporters Blake Morrison and Brad Heath analyze data on U.S. schools’ exposure to risk from nearby industrial facilities.  It triggers an uproar from parents at the impacted schools.  EPA promises regular monitoring of 62 schools identified in the series, which wins several reporting awards, including the Oakes Award for the year’s best environmental reporting.

Photo: thomasbrightbill/Flickr

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