What Is the Role of the EPA?
In the 1960s, pesticides like dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (or DDT) were widely used to protect crops from pests like insects. DDT in particular was considered a cure-all because it was toxic to a wide range of insects, without seeming to cause any harm to cows or other farm mammals. It didn’t readily break down and so only required infrequent applications. And it was insoluble in water or didn’t get washed away by the rain.Environmental Protection
However, in 1962, scientist Rachel Carson published her book Silent Spring. Which was a main catalyst for the movement to protect the environment and thus our own welfare. Her book grabbed the public’s attention who then put pressure on many state. And local governments to enact laws regulating pollution and chemical use. After a few years of varied and disconnected attempts at regulation. It became clear that a dedicated federal agency was needed to sort through these efforts and unite them. In 1970, then President Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act (or NEPA), and the EPA now monitors over 100 programs that uphold a dozen major laws.
The stated mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is to “protect human health and the environment.” So they ensure that the living and working environments of those living in the US do not pose a significant risk to our health. They do this primarily through research into environmental conditions. Through educating the public, and through making sure the federal health and environmental laws enacted by Congress are enforced effectively.
Not all of the EPA’s work is fines and sanctions.
They also coordinate volunteer programs for industry players, looking to participate in pollution prevention and environmental conservation. After laws are ratified by congress, the EPA then determines strategies for enforcing those laws fairly. The maintenance of the national standards dictated by legislation is done in cooperation, with state and local governments. As well as tribal governing bodies.
Thus, the EPA does not on its own make laws, but instead is involved before and after those laws are set. Beforehand, the EPA is tasked with ensuring the lawmakers are informed by the highest quality of research. The agency is tasked with monitoring water, air, land. And human health quality and provides the vast majority of this information to the public. In order to gather a range of perspectives, as well as draw from leading researchers in the field. The EPA also awards over several billion dollars in grants and fellowships.Environmental Protection
What Does the EPA Do for You?
The EPA ensures that you have clean air to breathe. The Clean Air Act of 1970 requires that the EPA protect and improve the air quality in the US. As well as protect the stratospheric ozone layer. This includes placing limitations on emissions of harmful substances. Prevention of future air pollution, setting emission standards for motor vehicles and airplanes, and regulating the recycling and disposal of appliances. That incorporate chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs. Without the dramatic reduction in emission of CFCs due in large part to this regulation. The hole in the ozone layer would still be growing. Putting more and more people at risk from the side effects of harmful ultraviolet radiation, including skin cancer.
In 1990, Congress approved the most recent major amendment to the Clean Air Act. Which requires a reduction in the emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides gases. In response, the EPA set up a cap-and-trade program to cut sulfur dioxide emissions under its Acid Rain program.
Acid rain is known to change the chemical composition of soil leading to reductions in agricultural production. And widespread damage to trees. Acidic water can also cause lead and copper to leach into drinking water for those who do not rely on public water supplies. Acidic water vapor in the air can also cause respiratory problems, headaches, and asthma. Even infrastructure is at risk from acid rain which speeds up the corrosion process in metal, and limestone structures including cars and buildings.
The EPA also coordinates an Asbestos Program to provide resources for identifying and managing or removing asbestos. Which has been documented to cause serious respiratory problems.
The EPA ensures that you have clean water to drink and to bathe in.
The Clean Water Act of 1972 makes it illegal to dump pollutants into navigable waters without a permit. And the EPA is in charge of issuing such permits through their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.
In 2014, Flint, Michigan, a city of over 98,000 people, had its water source changed from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Despite concerns of sewage and industrial waste contaminations in the river. Since the switch, repeated water boiling advisories have been issued for residents in response. To reports of fecal bacteria in the water supply. Later, potential cancer-causing byproducts of the disinfectants used to combat the bacteria were also reported. Environmental Protection
Although the EPA’s role in this crisis has been complex, in early 2015, the EPA intervened on behalf of a resident. Who reported dark sediment in her tap water, which the EPA tested and determined to have dangerous levels of lead (over twice the level classified as hazardous waste). The EPA continues to test and monitor the water supply as many residents remain without safe tap water.Environmental Protection