Reorganization and news of workforce cuts and/or abolishment altogether has plagued the Environmental Protection Agency for a while now. As the name suggests, the agency protects the environment, and so much more. Here’s a look at their history and what they do.
The agency’s overarching mission is to protect human health and the environment. They work to ensure:
To accomplish these missions, EPA:
When Congress writes an environmental law, the EPA implements it by writing regulations.
Nearly ½ their budget goes into grants to state environmental programs, non-profits, educational institutions and others.
At labs nationwide, the agency identifies and tries to solve environmental problems. To learn more, they share information with other countries, private sector organizations, academic institutions, and other agencies.
They work with businesses, non-profit organizations, and state and local governments through a lot of partnerships.
They help people understand the issues, such as reducing how much energy and materials they use, reusing what they can and recycling the rest.
EPA was established on December 2, 1970, in the wake of elevated concern about environmental pollution. Federal research, monitoring, standard-setting, and enforcement activities to ensure environmental protection were all consolidated into this one agency.
Conversations about protecting the environment began back in the 1960’s. Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson and published in 1962, attacked the use of pesticides.
A few disasters started creating concern about air and water pollution—an offshore oil rig in California spilling millions of gallons of oil; the Cuyahoga River near Cleveland, OH spontaneously burst into flames because of chemical contaminants; astronauts had begun photographing Earth from space heightening awareness that Earth’s resources are finite.
In early 1970, because of this heightened concern, President Richard Nixon presented the House and Senate a groundbreaking 37-point message on the environment. Points included:
Around this time, Nixon also created a council to help consider how to organize federal government programs designed to reduce pollution, so those programs could efficiently address the goals laid out in his message.
Following the council’s recommendations, the President sent Congress a plan to consolidate many environmental responsibilities of the federal government under one agency, a new Environmental Protection Agency. This reorganization would permit response to environmental problems in a manner beyond the previous capability of government pollution control programs:
After hearings that summer, the House and Senate approved the proposal and the agency’s 1st Administrator, William Ruckelshaus, took an oath of office on December 4, 1970.