Whenever environmental issues make the news, you almost inevitably hear some mention of the EPA (The Environmental Protection Agency for the United States). However, you rarely hear about the history of the EPA, how it was established, what its goals are, or what particular laws and rules may apply to the work that the EPA performs. In this brief over view, we will examine how the EPA got its start, what its purpose is and raise the question of whether or not it has lived up to the task of protecting our environment and the health of US citizens from the threats that arise out of the abuse of the environment.
As part of what was known as Reorganization Plan Number Three, President Richard Nixon issued an executive order which sent the plan to congress combining several separate branches of the federal government into one cohesive office to oversee the problems of pollution and other environmental harms and to protect both nature and the public from the effects of potentially destructive activities. The move created the EPA as a federal agency in 1970 on July 9th.
The Structure of the EPA:
The EPA is ran by an administrator appointed directly by the president of the United States and although it is not technically a cabinet position, the appointed administrator of the EPA is given the same level of rank and authority as a cabinet member would have. Geographically, the EPA is divided into 10 different regions that cover each of the states across the country.
Internally, the EPA consists of 13 distinct offices including:
Office of Administration and Resources
Office of Air and Radiation
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
Office of Environmental Information
Office of Environmental Justice
Office of the Chief Financial Officer
Office of General Counsel
Office of Inspector General
Office of International Affairs
Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances
Office of Research and Development
Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
Office of Water
The EPA is charged with monitoring harmful environmental impacts and pollution by companies, factories, individuals, etc. One of their chief responsibilities is in the over sight and enforcement of various environmental regulations including The Clean Air Act and subsequent amendments, the Water Quality Act and subsequent amendments as well as the laws and regulations that have been passed regarding the protection of endangered species, handling of toxic substances, and the proper disposal of hazardous waste among others.