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United States Environmental Protection Agency

Environmental Protection Agency

Environmental Protection Agency logo
Agency overview
Formed December 2, 1970
Employees 17,964 (2005)
Annual Budget $7.3 billion (2007)
Agency Executives Stephen L. Johnson, Administrator
Marcus Peacock, Deputy Administrator

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or sometimes USEPA) is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and with safeguarding the natural environment: air, water, and land. The EPA began operation on December 2, 1970, when it was established by President Richard Nixon. It is led by its Administrator, who is appointed by the President of the United States. The EPA is not a Cabinet agency, but the Administrator is normally given cabinet rank. The current Administrator (as of 2007) is Stephen L. Johnson, and the current Deputy Administrator is Marcus Peacock. The agency has approximately 18,000 full-time employees.[1]



  EPA comprises 17,000 people in headquarters program offices, 10 regional offices, and 27 laboratories across the country. More than half of its staff are engineers, scientists, and environmental protection specialists; other groups include legal, public affairs, financial, and computer specialists.

The agency conducts environmental assessment, research, and education. It has the primary responsibility for setting 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 Native American 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.


On July 9, 1970, Richard Nixon transmitted Reorganization Plan No. 3 to the United States Congress by executive order, creating the EPA as a single, independent, agency from a number of smaller arms of different federal agencies. Prior to the establishment of the EPA, the federal government was not structured to make a coordinated attack on the pollutants which harm human health and degrade the environment. The EPA was assigned the task of repairing the damage already done to the natural environment and to establish new criteria to guide Americans in making a cleaner, safer America.

Air Programs

Energy Star

Main article: Energy Star

In 1992 the EPA launched the Energy Star program, a voluntary program that fosters energy efficiency; in 2006 EPA launched WaterSense to similarly foster water efficiency. EPA also 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. It is also responsible for reviewing projects of other federal agencies' Environmental Impact Statements under NEPA.

Fuel economy testing and results

American automobile manufacturers are required to use EPA fuel economy test results to advertise the gas mileage of their vehicles, and the manufacturers are disallowed from providing 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 test. This calculated fuel economy is then adjusted downward by 10% city and 22% highway to compensate for changes in driving conditions since 1972.

The current testing system was developed in 1972, and is a simulation of rush-hour Los Angeles of that era. Prior to 1984, the EPA did not adjust the fuel economy downward, and instead used the exact fuel economy figures calculated from the test. In December 2006, the EPA finalized new test methods to improve fuel economy and emission estimates, which would take effect with model year 2008 vehicles[3], setting the precedent of a 12 year review cycle on the test procedures.

As of the 2000s, most motor vehicle users report significantly lower real-world fuel economy than the EPA rating; this problem is most evident in hybrid vehicles. This is mainly because of drastic changes in typical driving habits and conditions which have occurred in the decades since the tests were implemented. For example, the average speed of the 1972 "highway" test is a mere 48 mph, with a top speed of 60 mph. It is expected that when the 2008 test methods are implemented, city estimates for non-hybrid cars will drop by 10-20%, city estimates for hybrid cars will drop by 20-30%, and highway estimates for all cars will drop by 5-15%[3]. The new methods include factors such as high speeds, aggressive accelerations, air conditioning use and driving in cold temperatures.

In February 2005, the organization launched a program called "Your MPG" that allows drivers to add real-world fuel economy statistics into a database on the EPA's fuel economy website and compare them with others and the original EPA test results.

Air quality and air pollution

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[4][5] and other mathematical simulation techniques used in assessing pollution control strategies and the impacts of air pollution sources.

The AQMG serves as the focal point on air pollution modeling techniques for other EPA headquarters staff, EPA regional Offices, and State and local environmental agencies. It coordinates with the EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD) on the development of new models and techniques, as well as wider issues of atmospheric research. Finally, the AQMG conducts modeling analyses to support the policy and regulatory decisions of the EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS).

The AQMG is located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

Oil Pollution Prevention

SPCC - Spill Prevention Containment and Counter Measures. Secondary Containment mandated at oil storage facilities. Oil release containment at oil development sites.


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.[6]

The EPA has also closed some of its regional libraries and reduced hours in others, [7] using the same FY 2007 proposed budget numbers.


DDT ban

In 1972 the EPA banned DDT because of its "unreasonable adverse effects on man and the environment."[8] Studies in the intervening years have demonstrated that while its acute effects on humans and primates are mild at worst, DDT and its degradants have a very heavy impact on aquatic life and the avian populations which feed on them.[9]

Mercury emissions

In March 2005, nine states, California, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New Mexico and Vermont, sued the EPA. The EPA's inspector general had determined that the EPA's regulation of mercury emissions did not follow the Clean Air Act, and that the regulations were influenced by top political appointees.[10][11] The EPA had suppressed a study it commissioned by Harvard University which contradicted its position on mercury controls[12]. 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.[13] Several states also began to enact their own mercury emission regulations. In one of the most stringent examples, Illinois' proposed rule would reduce mercury emissions from power plants by an average of 90% by 2009, with no trading allowed.[14]

9/11 air ratings

See EPA 9/11 pollution controversy

Global warming

In June 2005, a memo revealed Philip Cooney, former chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, had personally edited documents, summarizing government research on climate change, before their release.[15]

Cooney resigned two days after the memo was published in The New York Times. Cooney said he had been planning to resign for over two years, implying the timing of his resignation was just a coincidence. Specifically, he said he had planned to resign to "spend time with his family."[16] One week after resigning he took a job at Exxon Mobil in their public affairs department. [17]

Greenhouse gas emissions

The Supreme Court ruled on April 2, 2007 in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency that the EPA has the authority to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases in automobile emissions, stating that "greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air Act capacious definition of air pollutant." The court also stated that the EPA must regulate in this area unless it is able to provide a scientific reason for not doing so.[18]

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.[19]

Very fine airborne particulates

Tiny particles, under 2.5 micrometres, are attributed to health and mortality concerns[20] so some health advocates want EPA to regulate it. The science may be in its infancy although many conferences have discussed the trails of this airborne matter in the air. Foreign governments like Australia and most EU states have addressed this issue.

The EPA first established standards in 1997, and strengthened them in 2006. As with other standards, regulation and enforcement of the PM2.5 standards is the responsibility of the state governments, through State Implementation Plans.[21]

Review of air quality standards

Since its inception the EPA has begun to rely less and less on its scientists and more on nonscience personnel. EPA has recently changed their policies regarding limits for ground-level ozone, particulates, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and lead. New policies will minimize scientist interaction in this process and rely more on policy makers who have minimal scientific knowledge. This new policy has been criticized by Democrats.[22]

EPA offices

  • Office of Administration and Resources Management
  • Office of Air and Radiation
  • Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
  • Office of the Chief Financial Officer
  • Office of General Counsel
  • Office of Inspector General
  • Office of International Affairs
  • Office of Environmental Information
  • Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances
  • Office of Research and Development
  • Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
  • Office of Water

Each EPA regional office is responsible within its states for implementing the Agency's programs, except those programs that have been specifically delegated to states.

  • Region 1 - responsible within the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
  • Region 2 - responsible within the states of New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Region 3 - responsible within the states of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
  • Region 4 - responsible within the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
  • Region 5 - responsible within the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
  • Region 6 - responsible within the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
  • Region 7 - responsible within the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.
  • Region 8 - responsible within the states of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
  • Region 9 - responsible within the states of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the territories of Guam and American Samoa.
  • Region 10 - responsible within the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

Each regional office also implements programs on Indian Tribal lands, except those programs delegated to Tribal authorities.

List of EPA administrators

1970–1973William D. Ruckelshaus
1973–1977Russell E. Train
1977–1981Douglas M. Costle
1981–1983Anne M. Gorsuch (Burford)
1983–1985William D. Ruckelshaus
1985–1989Lee M. Thomas
1989–1993William K. Reilly
1993–2001Carol M. Browner
2001–2003Christine Todd Whitman
2003–2005Michael O. Leavitt
2005—Stephen L. Johnson

Related legislation

The legislation here is general environmental protection legislation, and may also apply to other units of the government, including the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture.


  • 1955 - Air Pollution Control Act PL 84-159
  • 1963 - Clean Air Act PL 88-206
  • 1965 - Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act PL 89-272
  • 1966 - Clean Air Act Amendments PL 89-675
  • 1967 - Air Quality Act PL 90-148
  • 1969 - National Environmental Policy Act PL 91-190
  • 1970 - Clean Air Act Extension PL 91-604
  • 1976 - Toxic Substances Control Act PL 94-469
  • 1977 - Clean Air Act Amendments PL 95-95
  • 1990 - Clean Air Act Amendments PL 101-549


  • 1948 - Water Pollution Control Act PL 80-845
  • 1965 - Water Quality Act PL 89-234
  • 1966 - Clean Waters Restoration Act PL 89-753
  • 1969 - National Environmental Policy Act PL 91-190
  • 1970 - Water Quality Improvement Act PL 91-224
  • 1972 - Water Pollution Control Act PL 92-500
  • 1974 - Safe Drinking Water Act PL 93-523
  • 1976 - Toxic Substances Control Act PL 94-469
  • 1977 - Clean Water Act PL 95-217
  • 1987 - Water Quality Act PL 100-4


  • 1964 - Wilderness Act PL 88-577
  • 1968 - Scenic Rivers Preservation Act PL 90-542
  • 1969 - National Environmental Policy Act PL 91-190
  • 1970 - Wilderness Act PL 91-504
  • 1977 - Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act PL 95-87
  • 1978 - Wilderness Act PL 98-625
  • 1980 - Alaska Land Protection Act PL 96-487
  • 1994 - California Desert Protection Act PL 103-433
  • 1996 - Food Quality Protection Act

Endangered species

  • 1946 - Coordination Act PL 79-732
  • 1966 - Endangered Species Preservation Act PL 89-669
  • 1969 - Endangered Species Conservation Act PL 91-135
  • 1972 - Marine Mammal Protection Act PL 92-522
  • 1973 - Endangered Species Act PL 93-205

Hazardous waste

  • 1965 - Solid Waste Disposal Act PL 89-272
  • 1969 - National Environmental Policy Act PL 91-190
  • 1970 - Resource Recovery Act PL 91-512
  • 1976 - Resource Conservation and Recovery Act PL 94-580
  • 1980 - Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("Superfund") PL 96-510
  • 1982 - Nuclear Waste Repository Act PL 97-425
  • 1984 - Hazardous and Solid Wastes Amendments Act PL 98-616
  • 1986 - Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act PL 99-499
  • 2002 - Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act ("Brownfields Law") PL 107-118

See also

  • Acid mine drainage
  • Air pollution
  • American Heritage Rivers
  • AP 42 Compilation of Air Pollutant Emission Factors
  • Atmospheric dispersion modeling
  • BioWatch
  • List of waste management companies
  • List of waste management topics
  • List of solid waste treatment technologies
  • List of Superfund sites in the United States
  • Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training
  • Regulatory Flexibility Act
  • Renewable energy
  • U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board
  • Wise Use Movement


  1. ^ a b Joseph Kahn and Jim Yardley. "As China Roars, Pollution Reaches Deadly Extremes", New York Times, August 26, 2007. 
    Also see U.S. Census Bureau spreadsheet
  2. ^ EPA budget (PDF)
  3. ^ a b EPA Fuel Economy
  4. ^ Turner, D.B. (1994). Workbook of atmospheric dispersion estimates: an introduction to dispersion modeling, 2nd Edition, CRC Press. ISBN 1-56670-023-X.
  5. ^ Beychok, M.R. (2005). Fundamentals Of Stack Gas Dispersion, 4th Edition, author-published. ISBN 0-9644588-0-2.
  6. ^ "Notification of Closure of the EPA Headquarters Library" (pdf), September 20, 2006
  7. ^ Letter to Appropriations Committee, Interior and Related Agencies Subcommittee, June 29, 2006 (pdf), from leaders of 16 local EPA unions
  8. ^ EPA Press Release, New DDT Report Confirms Data Supporting 1972 Ban, Finds Situation Improving, August 11, 1975.
  9. ^ Environmental Health Criteria #83 "DDT and derivatives: environmental aspects," World Health Organization, 1989.
  10. ^ Proposed Mercury Rules Bear Industry Mark, Washington Post, January 31, 2004
  11. ^ EPA Inspector Finds Mercury Proposal Tainted, Washington Post, February 4, 2005
  12. ^ New EPA Mercury Rule Omits Conflicting Data, Washington Post, March 22, 2005
  13. ^ States Sue EPA Over Mercury Emissions, LA Times, March 30, 2005
  14. ^ Governor Blagojevich and Illinois EPA Propose Aggressive Mercury Controls For Illinois Power Plants, Environmental Progress, Spring 2006, page 12
  15. ^ U.S. Official Edited Warming, Emission Link - Report, Reuters, June 8, 2005
  16. ^ White House Official Resigns After Climate Documents Flap, Agence France Presse, June 12, 2005
  17. ^ Ex-White House environment official joins Exxon, Reuters, June 15, 2005
  18. ^ Linda Greenhouse. "Justices Say E.P.A. Has Power to Act on Harmful Gases", New York Times, April 2, 2007. 
  19. ^ Danny Hakim. "E.P.A. Holds Back Report on Car Fuel Efficiency", New York Times, July 28, 2005. 
  20. ^ [1]
  21. ^ [2]
  22. ^ C&E News, December 18, 2006, page 15
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "United_States_Environmental_Protection_Agency". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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