I didn't expect to encounter such a subtle line in a WaPo article about whether Obama was right about the bitterness of people in small towns in Pennsylvania. The reporter who injected that piquant irony is Alec MacGillis.
It's a bad sign that the river runs cleaner, because it means that the factories upstream are closed.
The relationship between economic vitality and the environment is complex. Factories could be made cleaner, and when manufacturing moves overseas, the factories probably run dirtier. Still, I wonder: Why don't environmentalists celebrate economic recessions? Don't economic setbacks advance their goals? Perhaps they do celebrate quietly, maybe in the private chambers of their own hearts. It's not good PR to exult at misfortune.