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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or sometimes USEPA) is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged to protect human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress. The EPA was proposed by President Richard Nixon and began operation on December 2, 1970, when its establishment was passed by Congress, and signed into law by President Nixon, and has since been chiefly responsible for the environmental policy of the United States. 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. Lisa P. Jackson is the current Administrator. The agency has approximately 18,000 full-time employees.

Also see U.S. Census Bureau spreadsheet

History

On July 9, 1970, President 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 comprehensively regulate 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.

EPA offices

  • 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


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.



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

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 Interiormarker and the Department of Agriculturemarker.

Air



Water



Land



Endangered species



Hazardous waste



Programs

Energy Star

In 1992 the EPA launched the Energy Star program, a voluntary program that fosters energy efficiency.

Pesticide Registration

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 projects of other federal agencies' Environmental Impact Statements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative

Through the Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative (SDSI), EPA's Design for the Environment (DfE) Program recognizes environmental leaders who voluntarily commit to the use of safer surfactants. Safer surfactants are surfactants 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.

The Design for the Environment Program has identified safer alternative surfactants through partnerships with industry and environmental advocates. These safer alternatives are comparable in cost and are readily available. CleanGredients is a source of safer surfactants.

Fuel economy testing and results

Manufacturers selling automobiles in the USAmarker 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.

The current testing system was originally developed in 1972 and used driving cycles designed to simulate driving during rush-hour in Los Angelesmarker during that era. Prior to 1984 the EPA reported the exact fuel economy figures calculated from the test. In 1984, the EPA began adjusting city (aka Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule or UDDS) results downward by 10% and highway (aka HighWay Fuel Economy Test or HWFET) results by 22% to compensate for changes in driving conditions since 1972 and to better correlate the EPA test results with real-world driving. In 1996, the EPA proposed updating the Federal Testing Procedures to add a new higher speed test (US06) and an air-conditioner on test (SC03) to further improve the correlation of fuel economy and emission estimates with real-world reports. The updated testing methodology was finalized in December, 2006 for implementation with model year 2008 vehicles and set the precedent of a 12 year review cycle for the test procedures.

As of the early 2000s, most motor vehicle drivers 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 , with a top speed of . 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%. 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 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 Parkmarker, North Carolinamarker.

Oil pollution prevention

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

WaterSense

The WaterSense program is designed to encourage water efficiency through the use of a special label on consumer products. 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. The program was launched in 2006.

Safe Drinking Water

EPA ensures safe drinking water for the public, by setting standards for more than 160,000 public water systems throughout the United States. 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.

Research vessel

OSV Bold docked at Port Canaveral, FL
On March 3, 2004 the United States Navy transferred USNS Bold, a Stalwart class ocean surveillance ship, to the EPA, now known as 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 Bold is to monitor sites where materials dumped from dredging operations in U.S. ports for ecological impact.

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.

Controversies

Air quality standards review

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 with the agency and rely more on policy makers who have minimal scientific knowledge. This new policy has been criticized by Democrats. On March 12, 2008, the Federal government of the United States reported that the air in hundreds of U.S. counties was simply too dirty to breathe, ordering a multibillion-dollar expansion of efforts to clean up smog in cities and towns nationwide.

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.

The state of California sued the EPA for its refusal to allow California and 16 other states to raise fuel economy standards for new cars. EPA administrator Stephen L. Johnson claimed that the EPA was working on its own standards, but the move has been widely considered an attempt to shield the auto industry from environmental regulation by setting lower standards at the federal level, which would then preempt state laws. California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with 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. It was reported that Stephen Johnson in making this decision, ignored his own staff.

Global warming

In June 2005, a memo revealed that 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. 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." One week after resigning he took a job at Exxon Mobil in their public affairs department.

In December 2007, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson approved a draft of a document that declared that climate change imperiled the public welfare - a decision that would trigger the first national mandatory global-warming regulations. Associate Deputy Administrator Jason Burnett e-mailed the draft to the White House. White House aides - who had long resisted mandatory regulations as a way to address climate change - knew the gist of what Johnson's finding would be, Burnett said. They also knew that once they opened the attachment, it would become a public record, making it controversial and difficult to rescind. So they didn't open it; rather, they called Johnson and asked him to take back the draft. U.S. law clearly stated that the final decision was the EPA administrator's, not President Bush's. Johnson rescinded the draft; in July 2008, he issued a new version which did not state that global warming was danger to public welfare. Burnett resigned in protest.

Greenhouse gas emissions

The Supreme Courtmarker 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.

Jason K. Burnett, former EPA deputy associate administrator, told the United States Congress that an official from Vice President Dick Cheney's office censored congressional testimony by Julie L. Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reportedly, the testimony excluded said that "CDC considers climate change a serious public health concern."

Libraries

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

On October 1, 2008, the Agency re-opened regional libraries in Chicagomarker, Dallasmarker and Kansas City and the library at its Headquarters in Washington, DCmarker.

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. The EPA had suppressed a study it commissioned by Harvard Universitymarker which contradicted its position on mercury controls. 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. Several states also began to enact their own mercury emission regulations. Illinois' proposed rule would have reduced mercury emissions from power plants by an average of 90% by 2009.

9/11 air ratings

A report released by the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Environmental Protection Agency in August 2003 claimed that the White House put pressure on the EPA to delete cautionary information about the air quality in New York City around Ground Zero following the September 11, 2001 attacks.



Very fine airborne particulates

Tiny particles, under 2.5 micrometres, are attributed to health and mortality concerns, so some health advocates want the 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 such as 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.

Political pressure

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 has been more prevalent in the last five years compared to previous years. The highest number of complaints came from scientists who are involved in determining the risks of cancer by chemicals used in food and other aspects of everyday life.

Environmental justice

The EPA has been criticized for its lack of progress towards environmental justice. Administrator Christine Todd Whitman was criticized for her changes to President Bill Clinton's Executive Order 12898 during 2001, removing the requirements for government agencies to take the poor and minority populations into special consideration when making changes to environmental legislation, and therefore defeating the spirit of the Executive Order.O’Neil, S. G. (2007). Superfund: Evaluating the Impact of Executive Order 12898. Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 115, Number 7, pgs 1087–1093 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. Studies have also found that poor and minority populations were underserved by the EPA's Superfund program, and that this equity was worsening.

List of EPA administrators

1970–1973 William D. Ruckelshaus
1973–1977 Russell E. Train
1977–1981 Douglas M. Costle
1981–1983 Anne M. Gorsuch
1983–1985 William D. Ruckelshaus
1985–1989 Lee M. Thomas
1989–1993 William K. Reilly
1993–2001 Carol M. Browner
2001–2003 Christine Todd Whitman
2003–2005 Michael O. Leavitt
2005–2009 Stephen L. Johnson
2009– Lisa P. Jackson


See also





References

  1. EPA SDSI Home Page
  2. CleanGredients Home Page
  3. EPA Fuel Economy
  4. www.crcpress.com
  5. www.air-dispersion.com
  6. EPA. "WaterSense."
  7. EPA > Wetlands > Wetlands Fact Sheet
  8. C&E News, December 18, 2006, page 15
  9. CNN, March 13, 2008
  10. U.S. Official Edited Warming, Emission Link - Report, Reuters, June 8, 2005
  11. White House Official Resigns After Climate Documents Flap, Agence France Presse, June 12, 2005
  12. Ex-White House environment official joins Exxon, Reuters, June 15, 2005
  13. "Notification of Closure of the EPA Headquarters Library" (pdf), September 20, 2006
  14. Letter to Appropriations Committee, Interior and Related Agencies Subcommittee, June 29, 2006 (pdf), from leaders of 16 local EPA unions
  15. EPA Newsbrief, October 1, 2008. Retrieved January 17, 2009.
  16. Proposed Mercury Rules Bear Industry Mark, Washington Post, January 31, 2004
  17. EPA Inspector Finds Mercury Proposal Tainted, Washington Post, February 4, 2005
  18. New EPA Mercury Rule Omits Conflicting Data, Washington Post, March 22, 2005
  19. States Sue EPA Over Mercury Emissions, LA Times, March 30, 2005
  20. Governor Blagojevich and Illinois EPA Propose Aggressive Mercury Controls For Illinois Power Plants, Environmental Progress, Spring 2006, page 12
  21. Reasons Why Particulate Matter (PM) Should be Included in EPA Settlements with Electric Utility Companies
  22. PM Standards Revision - 2006 | Particulate Matter | Air & Radiation | US EPA


External links




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