EPA's "Documerica" photo archive, suppressed by the Reagan administration and forgotten for years, is being revived. It provides a stunning series of "before" pictures as a context in which to place the pollution control now under assault by Republicans. And it offers cash-strapped journalists a treasure-trove of copyright-free graphics.
"Michael Reynolds built his first beer-can house in the New Mexico desert, arranging 70,000 steel cans into eight-can building blocks to create an otherworldly home with curving adobe walls and a reprocessed paper ceiling.
His efforts were captured by photographer David Hiser almost 40 years ago. In one, cans of Schlitz and Pepsi peek out from behind mortar in an unfinished wall; in another, Reynolds lies on a patchwork quilt, contemplating his pyramid-shaped room that the caption notes was 'modeled exactly after the Great Pyramid in Egypt.'
Today those photos have re-emerged with a renewed interest in 'Documerica,' a project U.S. EPA commissioned 40 years ago to document the state of the environment. Undertaken when EPA was a fledgling agency, the project captured the country before most federal regulations, before widespread recycling, before the popularity of energy-efficient homes and the controversy over 'green energy.'"