From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
|Environmental Protection Agency|
|Environmental Protection Agency logo|
|Formed||December 2, 1970|
|Annual budget||$8.682 billion (2011)|
|Agency executive||Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator|
|Constructs such as ibid., loc. cit. and idem are discouraged by Wikipedia's style guide for footnotes, as they are easily broken. Please improve this article by replacing them with named references (quick guide), or an abbreviated title. (January 2012)|
|Environmental Protection Agency|
|Environmental Protection Agency logo|
|Formed||December 2, 1970|
|Annual budget||$8.682 billion (2011)|
|Agency executive||Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator|
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or sometimes USEPA) is an agency of the United States 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. The EPA was proposed by President Richard Nixon and began operation on December 2, 1970, after Nixon submitted a reorganization plan to Congress and it was ratified by committee hearings in the House and Senate. The agency is led by its Administrator, who is appointed by the president and approved by Congress. The current administrator is Lisa P. Jackson. The EPA is not a Cabinet department, but the administrator is normally given cabinet rank.
The EPA has its headquarters in Washington, D.C., regional offices for each of the agency's 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 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.
The agency has approximately 17,000 full-time employees., 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.
On July 9, 1970, citing rising concerns over environmental protection and conservation, President 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 comprehensively regulate environmental pollutants.
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.
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.
|Please help improve this section by pruning it. Further information might be found on the talk page. (October 2010)|
|This section is missing information about several major EPA programs. Please expand the primary text and the lead to include this information. (October 2010)|
In 1992 the EPA launched the Energy Star program, a voluntary program that fosters energy efficiency.
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.
Through the Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative (SDSI), 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.
The Design for the Environment 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.
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.
The current testing system was originally developed in 1972 and used driving cycles designed to simulate driving during rush-hour in Los Angeles 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.
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.
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." Two-thirds of the vehicles the EPA tests themselves are selected randomly, and the remaining third are tested for specific reasons.
Although originally created as a reference point for fossil fuelled vehicles, driving cycles have been used for estimating how many miles an electric vehicle will do on a single charge.
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).
SPCC: Spill Prevention Containment and Counter Measures. Secondary Containment mandated at oil storage facilities. Oil release containment at oil development sites.
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.
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.
EPA has following seven groups of projects to protect public from nuclear contamination.
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 are dumped from dredging operations in U.S. ports for ecological impact.
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.
Since its inception the EPA has begun to rely less and less on its scientists and more on non-science personnel. EPA has recently changed their policies regarding limits for ground-level ozone, particulates, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and lead. 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 multi-billion dollar expansion of efforts to clean up smog in cities and towns nationwide.
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 ignored his own staff in making this decision.
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 found that both vehicle did not out-perform its competitors, which had much lower fuel economy ratings. Later road tests found better, but inconclusive, results.
|Wikinews has related news: EPA proposes using Clean Air Act to fight 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 did not 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.
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.
In June 2011, the EPA Library Network published a strategic plan for fiscal years 2012-2014.
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 University 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's proposed rule would have reduced mercury emissions from power plants by an average of 90% by 2009.
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.
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.
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.
EPA research has also been suppressed by career managers. Supervisors at EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment required several paragraphs to be deleted from a peer-reviewed journal article about EPA's integrated risk information system, which led two co-authors to have their names removed from the publication, and the corresponding author, Ching-Hung Hsu, to leave EPA "because of the draconian restrictions placed on publishing.". EPA subjects employees who author scientific papers to prior restraint, even if those papers are written on personal time. 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.
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. 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 situation was worsening.
Localization Many issues of environmental justice are localized, and are therefore hard to be addressed by federal agencies such as the EPA. Without significant media attention, political interest, or ‘crisis’ status, local issues are less likely to be addressed on local or federal level. With a still developing sector of environmental justice under the EPA, small, local incidents are unlikely to be solved compared to larger, well publicized incidents.
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.
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. While the EPA aids in preventing and identifying hazardous situations, it is hard to construct a specific mission statement given its wide range of responsibilities. It is impossible to address every environmental crime adequately or efficiently if there is no specific mission statement to refer to. The EPA answers to various groups, competes for resources, and confronts a wide array of harms to the environment. All of these present challenges, including a lack of resources, its self-policing policy, and a broadly defined legislation that creates too much discretion for EPA officers.
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.
|This "see also" section may contain an excessive number of suggestions. Please ensure that only the most relevant suggestions are given and that they are not red links, and consider integrating suggestions into the article itself. (November 2010)|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: United States Environmental Protection Agency|