U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Protection Agency logo.svg
Director:Gina McCarthy
Deputy Director:Bob Perciasepe
Annual budget:$8.2 billion (2014)
Total employed:15,913 (2013)
Year created:1970
Official website:Office website
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a United States agency formed in 1970 "to protect human health and the environment."[1] The current Director of the EPA is Gina McCarthy, who was confirmed by the Senate on July 18, 2013.[2]

The EPA employed 15,913 people in 2013.[3] The EPA develops and enforces regulations; gives grants to non-profit, educational institutions and state environmental agencies; studies environmental issues; publishes the agency's findings (as well as other educational materials) and sponsors partnerships.[1]


The EPA was formed in 1970, deriving its duties from the U.S. Department of the Interior; U.S. Department of Agriculture; U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare; Atomic Energy Commission; Federal Radiation Council and the Council on Environmental Equality.[4]

Following are important dates in the EPA's history:[5]

  • 1970: The Environmental Protection Agency is formed by President Richard Nixon under its first Administrator, William D. Ruckelshaus.
  • 1970: Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to set standards for pollution, auto emissions and air quality.
  • 1972: EPA bans the pesticide DDT.
  • 1972: Clean Water Act passed by Congress.
  • 1972: Ocean Dumping Act passed, allowing EPA to restrict ocean pollution.
  • 1973: Transportation controls established in cities, such as carpool and bus lanes.
  • 1973: EPA begins to gradually decrease lead in gasoline.
  • 1974: Safe Drinking Water Act passed, allowing EPA to regulate drinking water quality.
  • 1977: Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act regulatory control strengthened through amendments passed by Congress.
  • 1979: EPA chosen to monitor radiation levels after Three Mile Island incident.
  • 1982: Nuclear Waste Policy Act passed, allowing for safe disposal of nuclear waste.
  • 1986: Safe Drinking Water Act regulations tightened through amendments passed by Congress.
  • 1990: Pollution Prevention Act passed.
  • 1996: Leaded gasoline completely phased out.
  • 1996: Renters and home buyers required to be informed about lead-based paint hazards.
  • 2006: EPA signs contract to offset all electricity the agency uses by investing in wind power.
  • 2007: BP pays largest environmental fine in history, $62 million.



EPA office locations throughout the U.S.

The official EPA mission statement is as follows:

The mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment.[1][6]


Gina McCarthy is currently the Administrator of the EPA.

Note: Votes marked "N/A" represent voice votes or unrecorded votes. Missing votes will be filled as they are researched.

EPA's themes

The EPA released seven themes of the agency's future. They are as follows:[7]

  • Making a Visible Difference in Communities across the Country
  • Addressing Climate Change and Improving Air Quality
  • Taking Action on Toxics and Chemical Safety
  • Protecting Water: A Precious, Limited Resource
  • Launching a New Era of State, Tribal and Local Partnerships
  • Embracing EPA as a High Performing Organization
  • Working Toward a Sustainable Future[6]

—U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Obama administration

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Water rights rule

The EPA proposed a rule, as part of the Clean Water Act, that would allow the agency to determine which bodies of water is regulated by the federal government. The House passed legislation with a 262-152 vote to stop the EPA from being able to make rules regarding the Clean Water Act. Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) commented on the EPA's proposal, saying, "I have heard from many of my constituents that this rule would force them to prove that large mud puddles and ditches on their property are not federally regulated waters." On the other hand, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) wrote it off, stating, "We have departed from reality."[8] Thirty-five democrats broke ranks to vote in support of the bill, while one Republican, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), went against the grain and voted against its passage.[9]

The White House acknowledged that a veto would be used if the bill were to pass the Senate. A White House statement to House leaders read, "Clarifying the scope of the [Clean Water Act] helps to protect clean water, safeguard public health, and strengthen the economy."[10]

Carbon cap executive order

On June 2, 2014, President Barack Obama signed an executive order intended to cut carbon pollution in the United States by 30 percent of 2005 levels by 2030. The order allowed states to individually determine which policies would be more effective for them to reach their goals. A similar bill was debated by Congress during Obama's first term in office, but it failed to pass. Obama used powers established by the 1970 Clean Air Act to sign the executive order.[11] Legal challenges were expected to arise over the 645 page order. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said of the rule, "This is not just about disappearing polar bears or melting ice caps. This is about protecting our health and our homes. This is about protecting local economies and jobs."[12]

President Obama gave the EPA until June 2015 to finalize the rule and states have until June 2016 to submit their plans, but the EPA pushed the deadline for states back to 2017 for those working individually and 2018 for those working together on plans.[12]

Possible ramifications

Job losses

According to some estimates, hundreds of the nation's 6,000 coal plants that could be shut down by 2030 as a result of the new. The Chamber of Commerce estimated that the new rule could result in a lowering of the gross domestic product (GDP) by as much as $50 billion annually.[11]

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) president spoke out against the action, suggesting 75,000 jobs could be lost by 2020. He stated, "The proposed rule … will lead to long-term and irreversible job losses for thousands of coal miners, electrical workers, utility workers, boilermakers, railroad workers and others without achieving any significant reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions."[13] Additionally, Democratic lawmakers and candidates in coal-driven states have come out in opposition to the president's plan, including Alison Lundergan Grimes, Natalie Tennant and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV).[14]

States' lawsuit

The attorneys general from 13 states sent a letter on August 25, 2014, demanding that the rule be repealed, as the EPA broke the law by excluding information from the report. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey claimed the rule was unlawful, explaining, "hese docketing requirements are nondiscretionary,” wrote the attorneys, who represent major coal states including Wyoming, Indiana and Montana. “Finalizing a rule without providing parties with the technical information necessary for meaningful comment renders the final rule unlawful." He continued, including the Obama administration, "This is another blatant example of this agency’s disregard for the rule of law,” Morrisey said in a statement. “It is abundantly clear that EPA and the Obama administration will not allow anything to get in the way of enacting these illegal, burdensome regulations on coal-fired power plants."[15]

Twelve of the states also filed a lawsuit against the EPA on August 4, 2014, claiming that the agency can't, by its own rules, regulate the emissions of existing power plants. Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) stated, "Congress has already rejected legislation that would put limits on carbon dioxide emissions, and a law of this significance should be passed by the legislative branch." States participating are Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Carolina, Wyoming and South Dakota.[16]

Hydraulic fracturing study

See also: Fracking

In 2009, the United States House of Representatives requested that the EPA investigate the possible impact of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," on drinking water resources. The agency began its research in 2011, focusing on the five stages of the fracking water cycle and associated primary research questions:[17][18]

  • Water acquisition: What are the possible impacts of large volume water withdrawals from ground and surface waters on drinking water resources?
  • Chemical mixing: What are the possible impacts of hydraulic fracturing fluid surface spills on or near well pads on drinking water resources?
  • Well injection: What are the possible impacts of the injection and fracturing process on drinking water resources?
  • Flowback and produced water: What are the possible impacts of flowback and produced water (collectively referred to as “hydraulic fracturing wastewater”) surface spills on ornear well pads on drinking water resources?
  • Wastewater treatment and waste disposal: What are the possible impacts of inadequate treatment of hydraulic fracturing wastewater on drinking water resources?[6]

—Environmental Protection Agency

The agency is conducting analyses of existing data, scenario evaluations, laboratory studies, toxicity assessments and case studies in its preparation of the report. In December 2012, the EPA released a progress report. The agency expects to release a draft report in "early 2015."[17][18][19]


Obama administration

GAO analysis report

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) called for an investigation by the Government Accountability Office in 2011 on the cost-benefit analysis numbers produced by the EPA for their reports. Their findings, released in a 53 page report on August 11, 2014, showed that the agency did not monetize the costs and benefits of seven large programs and used a decades old study when examining the impact of the programs on employment. The GAO report stated, "Without improvements in its estimates, EPA’s RIAs may be limited in their usefulness for helping decision makers and the public understand these important effects." Issa released a statement criticizing the agency, saying, "Rather than using a fair and open rulemaking process, EPA pushed through regulations using sloppy analysis without sufficiently informing Congress or the public of the economic impact." The report recommended the agency ensure their reporting methods follow the government standards.[20]



Obama administration

EPA[3] Annual Budget
YearBudget (in billions)% Difference from previous year

Recent news

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See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "Our Mission and What We Do," accessed March 14, 2014
  2. The Huffington Post, "Senate approves Obama-pick McCarthy to head EPA," July 18, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "EPA's Budget and Spending," accessed March 14, 2014
  4. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "Duties Transferred to EPA," accessed March 14, 2014
  5. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "EPA History," accessed March 14, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  7. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "EPA's Themes - Meeting the Challenge Ahead," accessed August 5, 2014
  8. The Hill, "House passes bill to halt EPA water rule," September 9, 2014
  9. GovTrack, "H.R. 5078: Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014," September 9, 2014
  10. The Hill, "White House threatens to veto bill to kill EPA water rule," September 8, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 The New York Times, "Obama to Take Action to Slash Coal Pollution," June 1, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 USA Today, "EPA seeks 30% cut in power plant carbon emissions by 2030," June 2, 2014
  13. Fox News, "Unions slam Obama EPA rule," June 3, 2014
  14. The New York Times, "Democrats in Coal Country Run From E.P.A.," June 2, 2014
  15. The Hill, "States: EPA climate regs illegally left out data," August 25, 2014
  16. The Hill, "Coal country sues EPA over climate rules," August 4, 2014
  17. 17.0 17.1 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "EPA's Study of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas and Its Potential Impact on Drinking Water Resources," accessed August 27, 2014
  18. 18.0 18.1 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources: Progress Report," December 2012
  19. JD supra Business Advisor, "EPA Further Delays Hydraulic Fracturing Study as Controversy Builds," November 4, 2014
  20. The Hill, "GAO faults cost analyses for EPA regulations," August 11, 2014