Sen. John KeryyNov. 2, 1944: A man who had one of the biggest impacts on the 20th-century environment dies. Thomas Midgley discovered in 1921 that adding tetraethyl lead to gasoline helps eliminate engine knock. In 1928, he invents chlorofluorocarbons as a refrigerant. But the widespread use of leaded gasoline is found to have dire health impacts, and CFC’s are a primary cause of the destruction of the Earth’s ozone layer. Both are now outlawed.

Nov. 2, 1995:  A year after the elections which turned the House of Representatives over to Speaker Newt Gingrich and advocates of the “Contract With America,” the Speaker gets a slapdown. Sixty-three of his Republican colleagues join with Democrats to defeat a measure that would have crippled the U.S. effort to enforce environmental laws.

Nov. 2, 2004: Campaigning on the eve of Election Day, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (at right) says that 40 percent of American waterways still don’t meet the Clean Water Act standard of being “fishable and swimmable.” He also promises to address mercury pollution from power plants.  He is trounced the next day by President George W. Bush, who campaigns in Iowa on this day and promises to promote ethanol.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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