How the EPA works,

How the EPA works, –8gh.,60.,

Formed in 12/2/1970, has 15,408  employees, Headed up by Gina McCarthy with a Budget of  $8.2 billion a year.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency[2] (EPA or sometimes USEPA) is an agency of the U.S. federal government which was created for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress.[3] The EPA was proposed by President Richard Nixon and began operation on December 2, 1970, after Nixon signed an executive order. The order establishing the EPA was ratified by committee hearings in the House and Senate.[4] The agency is led by its Administrator, who is appointed by the president and approved by Congress. The current administrator is Gina McCarthy.[5] The EPA is not a Cabinet department, but the administrator is normally given cabinet rank.

Ten regions, and 27 laboratories. The agency conducts environmental assessment, research, and education. It has the responsibility of maintaining and enforcing national standards under a variety of environmental laws, in consultation with state, tribal, and local governments. It delegates some permitting, monitoring, and enforcement responsibility to U.S. states and the federally recognized tribes. EPA enforcement powers include fines, sanctions, and other measures. The agency also works with industries and all levels of government in a wide variety of voluntary pollution prevention programs and energy conservation efforts.

The agency has approximately 15,193 full-time employees[6] and engages many more people on a contractual basis. More than half of EPA human resources are engineers, scientists, and environmental protection specialists; other groups include legal, public affairs, financial, and information technologists.

Congress reacted to increasing public concern about the impact that human activity could have on the environment. A key legislative option to address this concern was the declaration of a national environmental policy.[8] Advocates of this approach argued that without a specific policy, federal agencies were neither able nor inclined to consider the environmental impacts of their actions in fulfilling the agency’s mission.[citation needed] The statute that ultimately addressed this issue was the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969

It declared a national policy to protect the environment and created a Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in the Executive Office of the President.[citation needed] To implement the national policy, NEPA required that a detailed statement of environmental impacts be prepared for all major federal actions significantly affecting the environment. The “detailed statement” would ultimately be referred to as an environmental impact statement (EIS).

Ruckelshaus sworn in as first EPA Administrator.

1970, President Richard Nixon proposed an executive reorganization that would consolidate many of the federal government’s environmental responsibilities under one agency, a new Environmental Protection Agency. That reorganization proposal was reviewed and passed by the House and Senate.[10] For at least 10 years before NEPA was enacted,[11][better source needed] Congress debated issues that the act would ultimately address.[citation needed] The act was modeled on the Resources and Conservation Act of 1959, introduced by Senator James E. Murray in the 86th Congress.[12] That bill would have established an environmental advisory counsel in the office of the President, declared a national environmental policy, and required the preparation of an annual environmental report.

The EPA began regulating greenhouse gases (GHGs) from mobile and stationary sources of air pollution under the Clean Air Act (CAA) for the first time on January 2, 2011. Standards for mobile sources have been established pursuant to Section 202 of the CAA, and GHGs from stationary sources are controlled under the authority of Part C of Title I of the Act. See the page Regulation of Greenhouse Gases Under the Clean Air Act for further information.

In May 2013, Congress renamed the EPA headquarters as the William Jefferson Clinton Federal Building, after former president Bill Clinton.[15]






Endangered species

Hazardous waste


  • Energy Star
  • Main article: Energy Star
  • In 1992 the EPA launched the Energy Star program, a voluntary program that fosters energy efficiency.
  • Pesticide
  • EPA administers the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) (which is much older than the agency) and registers all pesticides legally sold in the United States.
  • Environmental Impact Statement Review
  • EPA is responsible for reviewing Environmental Impact Statements of other federal agencies’ projects, under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
  • Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative
  • Through the Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative (SDSI),[29] EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) recognizes environmental leaders who voluntarily commit to the use of safer surfactants. Safer surfactants are the ones that break down quickly to non-polluting compounds and help protect aquatic life in both fresh and salt water. Nonylphenol ethoxylates, commonly referred to as NPEs, are an example of a surfactant class that does not meet the definition of a safer surfactant.
  • Fuel economy
  • Manufacturers selling automobiles in the USA are required to provide EPA fuel economy test results for their vehicles and the manufacturers are not allowed to provide results from alternate sources. The fuel economy is calculated using the emissions data collected during two of the vehicle’s Clean Air Act certification tests by measuring the total volume of carbon captured from the exhaust during the tests.

It is important to note that the EPA actually conducts these tests on very few vehicles. “While the public mistakenly presumes that this federal agency is hard at work conducting complicated tests on every new model of truck, van, car, and SUV, in reality, just 18 of the EPA’s 17,000 employees work in the automobile-testing department in Ann Arbor, Michigan, examining 200 to 250 vehicles a year, or roughly 15 percent of new models. As to that other 85 percent, the EPA takes automakers at their word—without any testing-accepting submitted results as accurate.”[34]

Air quality

The Air Quality Modeling Group (AQMG) is in the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) and provides leadership and direction on the full range of air quality models, air pollution dispersion models[36][37] and other mathematical simulation techniques used in assessing pollution control strategies and the impacts of air pollution sources.

Oil pollution

The Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Rule applies to all facilities that store, handle, process, gather, transfer, store, refine, distribute, use or consume oil or oil products.

EPA WaterSense

Main article: WaterSense

WaterSense is an EPA program designed to encourage water efficiency in the United States through the use of a special label on consumer products. It was launched in June 2006.[38] Products include high-efficiency toilets (HETs), bathroom sink faucets (and accessories), and irrigation equipment. WaterSense is a voluntary program, with EPA developing specifications for water-efficient products through a public process and product testing by independent laboratories.[39]

Drinking water

Main article: Safe Drinking Water Act

EPA ensures safe drinking water for the public, by setting standards for more than 160,000 public water systems nationwide. EPA oversees states, local governments and water suppliers to enforce the standards under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The program includes regulation of injection wells in order to protect underground sources of drinking water.

Radiation protection

EPA has the following seven project groups to protect the public from radiation.[43]

  1. Radioactive Waste Management[44]
  2. Emergency Preparedness and Response Programs[45]

Protective Action Guides And Planning Guidance for Radiological Incidents

EPA developed the manual[46] to provide guideline for local and state governments to protect public from nuclear accident.

  1. EPA Cleanup and Multi-Agency Programs[47]
  2. Risk Assessment and Federal Guidance Programs[48]
  3. Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Materials Program[49]
  4. Air and Water Programs[50]
  5. Radiation Source Reduction and Management[51]

OSV Bold. The ship, previously used in anti-submarine operations during the Cold War, is equipped with sidescan sonar, underwater video, water and sediment sampling instruments, used in study of ocean and coastline. One of the major missions of the Bold was to monitor for ecological impact sites where materials are dumped from dredging operations in U.S. ports.

Advance identification

Advance identification, or ADID, is a planning process used by the EPA to identify wetlands and other bodies of water and their respective suitability for the discharge of dredged and fill material. The EPA conducts the process in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and local states or Native American Tribes. As of February 1993, 38 ADID projects had been completed and 33 were ongoing.[54]


EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

There has been political controversy[who?] over whether environmental regulations generally increase or decrease national employment.[56][57][58][59]

The “LT2” drinking water controversy

In 2005, the EPA issued the Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (LT2).[60] The rule requires covering open-air reservoirs containing finished drinking water, in order to reduce the incidence of disease caused by microorganisms in drinking water.

To comply with the rule the EPA ordered that a cap be placed over the Hillview Reservoir, the open reservoir where water bound for New York City’s receives its final disinfection before entering the pipelines that serve the city.[61] A number of city and state officials complained that the project was too costly and unnecessary.[62] The Hillview project is currently being reviewed by the EPA.

Fiscal mismanagement

EPA director Anne M. Gorsuch resigned under fire in 1983 during a scandal over mismanagement of a $1.6 billion program to clean up hazardous waste dumps. Gorsuch based her administration of the EPA on the New Federalism approach of downsizing federal agencies by delegating their functions and services to the individual states.[65] She believed that the EPA was over-regulating business and that the agency was too large and not cost-effective. During her 22 months as agency head, she cut the budget of the EPA by 22%, reduced the number of cases filed against polluters, relaxed Clean Air Act regulations, and facilitated the spraying of restricted-use pesticides. She cut the total number of agency employees, and hired staff from the industries they were supposed to be regulating.[66] Environmentalists contended that her policies were designed to placate polluters, and accused her of trying to dismantle the Agency.[67]

In 1982 Congress charged that the EPA had mishandled the $1.6 billion toxic waste Superfund and demanded records from Gorsuch.

Fuel economy

In July 2005, an EPA report showing that auto companies were using loopholes to produce less fuel-efficient cars was delayed. The report was supposed to be released the day before a controversial energy bill was passed and would have provided backup for those opposed to it, but at the last minute the EPA delayed its release.[70]

governors from 13 other states, stated that the EPA’s actions ignored federal law, and that existing California standards (adopted by many states in addition to California) were almost twice as effective as the proposed federal standards.[75] It was reported that Stephen Johnson ignored his own staff in making this decision.[76]

After the federal government bailed out General Motors and Chrysler in the Automotive industry crisis of 2008–2010, the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox was released with EPA fuel economy rating abnormally higher than its competitors. Independent road tests[77][78][79][80] found that the vehicle did not out-perform its competitors, which had much lower fuel economy ratings. Later road tests[81][82] found better, but inconclusive, results. Palm-based biodiesel and renewable diesel failed to meet the minimum 20% greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions savings threshold requirement to qualify as renewable fuels under the US Renewable Fuel Standard 2.[83] Palm oil plantations threaten the habitats of the endangered orang-utan and dwarf elephant.[84]

global warming- In 2004, the Agency began a strategic planning exercise to develop plans for a more virtual approach to library services. The effort was curtailed in July 2005 when the Agency proposed a $2.5 million cut in its 2007 budget for libraries. Based on the proposed 2007 budget, the EPA posted a notice to the Federal Register, September 20, 2006 that EPA Headquarters Library would close its doors to walk-in patrons and visitors on October 1, 2006.[86] The EPA also closed some of its regional libraries and reduced hours in others,[87] using the same FY 2007 proposed budget numbers.

Mercury emissions- The suit alleges that the EPA’s rule allowing exemption from “maximum available control technology” was illegal, and additionally charged that the EPA’s system of pollution credit trading allows power plants to forego reducing mercury emissions.[93] Several states also began to enact their own mercury emission regulations. Illinois’s proposed rule would have reduced mercury emissions from power plants by an average of 90% by 2009.


Political pressure and scientific integrity

In April 2008, the Union of Concerned Scientists said that more than half of the nearly 1,600 EPA staff scientists who responded online to a detailed questionnaire reported they had experienced incidents of political interference in their work. The survey included chemists, toxicologists, engineers, geologists and experts in other fields of science. About 40% of the scientists reported that the interference had been more prevalent in the last five years than in previous years. The highest number of complaints came from scientists who were involved in determining the risks of cancer by chemicals used in food and other aspects of everyday life.[98].

A $3 million mapping study on sea level rise was suppressed by EPA management during both the Bush and Obama Administrations, and managers changed a key interagency report to reflect the removal of the maps.[102] EPA employees have reported difficulty in conducting and reporting the results of studies on hydraulic fracturing due to industry[103][104][105] and governmental pressure, and are concerned about the censorship of environmental reports.[103][106][107]

In 2015, the Government Accountability Office stated that the EPA violated federal law with covert propaganda on their social media platforms. The social media messaging that was used promoted materials supporting the Waters of the United States rule, including materials that were designed to oppose legislative efforts to limit or block the rule.[108]

Environmental justice– In a March 2004 report, the inspector general of the agency concluded that the EPA “has not developed a clear vision or a comprehensive strategic plan, and has not established values, goals, expectations, and performance measurements” for environmental justice in its daily operations. Another report in September 2006 found the agency still had failed to review the success of its programs, policies and activities towards environmental justice.[110] Studies have also found that poor and minority populations were underserved by the EPA’s Superfund program, and that this situation was worsening.[109]

Conflicting political powers

The White House maintains direct control over the EPA, and its enforcements are subject to the political agenda of who is in power. Republicans and Democrats differ in their approaches to, and perceived concerns of, environmental justice. While President Bill Clinton signed the executive order 12898, the Bush administration did not develop a clear plan or establish goals for integrating environmental justice into everyday practices, which in turn affected the motivation for environmental enforcement.[111]

Responsibilities of the EPA

The EPA is responsible for preventing and detecting environmental crimes, informing the public of environmental enforcement, and setting and monitoring standards of air pollution, water pollution, hazardous wastes and chemicals.

Authority of the EPA

Under different circumstances, the EPA faces many limitations to enforcing environmental justice. It does not have the authority or resources to address injustices without an increase in federal mandates requiring private industries to consider the environmental ramifications of their activities.[114]

Gold King Mine waste water spill

Main article: 2015 Gold King Mine waste water spill

On August 5, 2015, while examining the level of pollutants in the Gold King Mine,[115] EPA workers released over three million gallons of toxic waste water, including heavy metals such as lead and arsenic into Cement Creek, which flowed into the Animas River in Colorado.[116]


The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is the head of the United States federal government’s Environmental Protection Agency, and is thus responsible for enforcing the nation’s Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, as well as numerous other environmental statutes. The Administrator is nominated by the President of the United States and must be confirmed by a vote of the Senate. The office of Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1970 in legislation that created the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA Administrator is customarily accorded Cabinet rank by the President and sits with the President, Vice President, and the 15 Cabinet Secretaries. Since the late 1980s, there has been a movement to make the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency a Cabinet Secretary, thus making the EPA a 16th Cabinet department, dealing with environmental affairs. The Administrator of the EPA is equivalent to the position of Minister of the Environment in other countries.

The current Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is Gina McCarthy, who succeeded acting administrator Bob Perciasepe, on July 18, 2013.

List of Administrators

Administrator Term of Office President(s) served under
William Ruckelshaus December 4, 1970 – April 30, 1973 Richard Nixon
Robert Fri
April 30, 1973 – September 12, 1973
Russell E. Train September 12, 1973 – January 20, 1977 Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford
John Quarles, Jr.
January 21, 1977 – March 6, 1977 Jimmy Carter
Douglas M. Costle March 7, 1977 – January 20, 1981
Steve Jellinek
January 21, 1981 – January 25, 1981 Ronald Reagan
Walter Barber, Jr.
January 25, 1981 – May 19, 1981
Anne M. Gorsuch May 20, 1981 – March 9, 1983
William Ruckelshaus May 18, 1983 – January 4, 1985
Lee M. Thomas February 8, 1985 – January 20, 1989
William K. Reilly February 6, 1989 – January 20, 1993 George H. W. Bush
Carol Browner January 23, 1993 – January 19, 2001 Bill Clinton
Christine Todd Whitman January 31, 2001 – June 27, 2003 George W. Bush
Marianne Lamont Horinko
July 14, 2003 – November 5, 2003
Michael Leavitt November 6, 2003 – January 26, 2005
Stephen L. Johnson January 26, 2005 – January 20, 2009
Lisa P. Jackson January 23, 2009 – February 15, 2013 Barack Obama
Bob Perciasepe
February 15, 2013 – July 18, 2013
Gina McCarthy July 18, 2013 – present

. Acting Administrators come from within the EPA and usually hold an office that is subject to Senate confirmation before becoming the Acting Administrator.

source-epa agency, usepa, nepa, caa, rodenticide act, sdsi, udds, aqmg, oar, spill prevention control and countermaesures, osv, lt2, anne gorsuch, stephen johnson, jason burnett, ching hung hsu, chrisitne todd, william ruckelshaus, bob perciasepe,


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