William Hungerford, in his recent article “Three Bad Bills“, reported on the House actions which seem to weaken the EPA. With that in mind, this is the first article in a series which examines the EPA and it’s role in our society.
The Environmental Protection Agency grew out of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 which President Nixon signed on January 1, 1970. The NEPA outlined the national policy to protect the environment. By an Executive Order, Nixon combined the NEPA and other environmental laws to form the Environmental Protection Agency. Congress authorized Nixon’s re-organizational plan.
The EPA mission statement includes: ” establishment and enforcement of environmental protection standards consistent with national environmental goals… The conduct of research on the adverse effects of pollution and on methods and equipment for controlling it; the gathering of information on pollution; and the use of this information in strengthening environmental protection programs and recommending policy changes… assisting others, through grants, technical assistance and other means, in arresting pollution of the environment… assisting the Council on Environmental Quality in developing and recommending to the President new policies for the protection of the environment.”
The EPA’s purpose is to protect human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress. (Congress authorized the EPA to be a ‘regulatory agency’). That is an important concept—the Legislative Branch passes laws. The Executive Branch, lead by the President, enforces them. When Congress created the environmental laws, the President needed to create the means to enforce them.
Besides regulating the laws, the EPA enforces them. It deals with different types of enforcement categories, including: Civil enforcement, Criminal enforcement, Cleanup enforcements and federal facilities enforcements. Their website’s “Enforcement” section defines each category. The EPA is also responsible to justify the type of enforcement actions it has chosen, along with the results of their actions.
EPA fosters the use of science and technology and conducts leading-edge research to protect human health and safeguards the natural environment. The topics the EPA deals with include: Air; Climate Change; Ecosystems; Health; Land, Waste and Cleanup; Pesticides; Substances and Toxics; Sustainable Practices; and Water.
The EPA has an important and massive task– “to protect human health and the environment.” Notice it said human health, not corporate wealth.
From Fiscal Year 2010 to Fiscal Year 2013, Congress has reduced the EPA’s budget by 23.3%, and the staff by 7.9%. That roughly coincides when the republicans took over the House. The EPA regulates. Corporations do not like regulations. House Republicans protect the corporate interests.
Who protects the constituents’ interests?