April 22 (UPI) -- Earth Day, celebrated annually on April 22, started in 1970 when a U.S. senator sought to bring environmental issues to the forefront.
U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis., founded Earth Day in 1970 as a means of drawing attention to environmental issues in the wake of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1969.
Nelson recruited U.S. Rep. Pete McCloskey, R-Calif., to co-chair his plans for nationwide events on April 22, and activist Denis Hayes was chosen to spearhead the nationwide organizing. An estimated 20 million Americans participated in events and demonstrations on the first Earth Day.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was founded later that same year.
Other holidays and observances for April 22 include Girl Scout Leader Appreciation Day and National Jelly Bean Day.