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Environmental Protection Agency

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an independent federal agency designed to protect human health and the environment.

Its responsibilities include developing and enforcing regulations, offering financial assistance, performing environmental research, sponsoring voluntary partnerships and programs, advancing environmental education, and publishing information.

The EPA employs approximately 17,000 people.[1] More than half of those people are engineers, scientists, and policy analysts, while the rest are legal, public affairs, financial, information management, and computer specialists.

Its headquarters are in Washington, D.C. It also operates 10 regional offices and more than a dozen laboratories.

The EPA is led by a presidential appointed administrator. The current administrator is Stephen L. Johnson.

[edit] History

The Environmental Protection Agency was proposed by U.S. president Richard Nixon in 1970 after 20 million people took to the streets to participate in the world's very first Earth Day.[2] It was assigned the task of repairing damage already done and establishing new criteria to help the United States develop a cleaner environment. Previously, no such organized body existed within the federal government. In the same year, Nixon also passed the landmark Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

EPA, Clean Air and Emission Reductions

Since the 1970s EPA has also been addressing reduced levels in vehicle emissions. In 1973 EPA phased-out the use of leaded gasoline. Congress also set tail-pipe emission standards for cars that led to the introduction of catalytic converters.

By the 1980’s the concern over acid rain intensifying in the Northern part of the U.S. and Canada was documented in a report put out by the National Research Council. In 1986 Congress decided the general public had a right to be informed as to what kinds of toxic chemicals were being emitted into the air, land and water.  In 1990 the push to clean up air quality fell onto the hands of the state when the U.S. Congress passed the Clean Air Act Amendments. Each state was required to demonstrate progress in taking measures to improve air quality. During 1990 President Bush also signed the Pollution Prevention Act and the National Environmental Education Act.

In 1995 the issue of acid rain was on the forefront once again when EPA launched an incentive-based program to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions, a by-product of diesel engines. In 1997 EPA introduced tough, new air quality standards for smog and soot. In 1999 President Bill Clinton announced new emission standards for cars, SUVs, minivans and trucks demanding they be 77 to 95 percent cleaner.[3] By 2000 EPA established stricter regulations requiring that all heavy-duty diesel engines and diesel fuel being used on the roads be 90 percent cleaner.

The clean up of diesel emissions continued in 2003 when 4,000 school buses were retrofitted through the Clean School Bus USA program that translated into the removal of over 200,000 pounds of particulate matter (PM) from the air over the next decade.[4] The Clear Skies legislation plus alternative regulations were proposed in 2003 to create a cap and trade system that would work towards reducing SO2 missions by 70 percent and NOx emissions by 65 percent below current levels.[5] By 2004 EPA also required that all off-road diesel machinery such as farm and construction equipment use cleaner fuels and diesel engines.

[edit] References

  1. About the EPA. EPA, 2008-09-30.
  2. 10 Greenest Presidents in U.S. History. The Daily Green. 26-01-2009.
  3. EPA History. EPA Website. 26-01-2009.
  4. EPA History. EPA Website. 26-01-2009.
  5. EPA History. EPA Website. 26-01-2009.

[edit] External Links