The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a United States agency designed to enforce regulations that protect the environment and natural resources. It performs studies of environmental issues to shape and support legislation for environmental protection.
Before the creation of the EPA, there was little regulation on pollutants and for resources. The American public assumed that water and air would be plentiful and industries continued to discharge sewage and waste into rivers and spew dangerous emissions into the air, making water unsafe to drink and air so toxic in some cases that some people were hospitalized or died. This oblivious throwaway lifestyle became aware during the 1960s when books like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring showed how chemicals and pollutants were damaging the environment.
In response to the growing outcry over the environment prompted U. S. President Richard Nixon to issue and Executive Order that reorganized the Executive Branch to move fifteen units from several departments to create a new department named the Environmental Protection Agency. This new agency was tasked with addressing the growing pollution problem and introduced the Clean Air Act (1970) to counter air pollution; the Federal Environmental Pesticide Act (1972); and the Clean Water Act (1972) to regulate wastewater from businesses and municipalities. The EPA was successful with air pollution as emissions in the United States declining from one-third to one-half from 1970 to 1990.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the EPA continued to introduce new regulations to combat hazardous waste and other contaminants. Today, the EPA continues as the regulator of the environmental policy while making sure that all current policies are being observed.
Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).” Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Environmental-Protection-Agency. Accessed August 4, 2016.
Wisman, Phil. “EPS History (1970-1985).” EPA. https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/epa-history-1970-1985. Accessed August 4, 2016.