There may be a few folks still around who remember the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
The science of soil conservation was in its infancy, folks didn’t know about contour plowing, and when the wind started to blow, it scoured the topsoil right off the prairie.
When I lived out there, I heard a story that senators and congressmen from the great Midwestern farm states pleaded in vain for relief from a government that wasn’t used to being the handout of last resort. Remember, even Social Security was just getting off the ground. Folks tended to look after themselves, locally.
Besides, people didn’t travel as much back then, and there was no TV. So the evidence was mostly anecdotal, and lacked immediacy.
It finally got so bad that a wall of dust several thousand feet high blew all the way east and was visible from Washington, D.C. One senator gathered his colleagues on the Capitol balcony and said (I paraphrase), “Gentlemen, what you see before you is the State of Oklahoma.”
Finally, they voted for some funding.
So it may take something like tar balls in the Tidal Basin before these folks finally wean themselves off big oil’s teat and actually pass some laws and regulations that benefit the country instead of their own careers. Nothing like soiling someone’s own back yard to focus his attention.