Environmental Protection Agency

Environmental Protection Agency
(abbr the EPA)
a US government organization that establishes rules and standards for protecting the environment, e.g. against pollution. It was started in 1970.

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▪ United States government agency
      agency of the U.S. government that sets and enforces national pollution-control standards.

      In 1970, in response to the welter of confusing, often ineffective environmental protection laws enacted by states and communities, President Richard Nixon (Nixon, Richard M.) created the EPA to fix national guidelines and to monitor and enforce them. Functions of three federal departments—of the Interior, of Agriculture, and of Health, Education, and Welfare—and of other federal bodies were transferred to the new agency. The EPA was initially charged with the administration of the Clean Air Act (1970), enacted to abate air pollution primarily from industries and motor vehicles; the Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act (1972); and the Clean Water Act (1972), regulating municipal and industrial wastewater discharges and offering grants for building sewage-treatment facilities. By the mid-1990s the EPA was enforcing 12 major statutes, including laws designed to control uranium mill tailings; ocean dumping; safe drinking water; insecticides, fungicides, and rodenticides; and asbestos hazards in schools.

      One of the EPA's early successes was an agreement with automobile manufacturers to install catalytic converters in cars, thereby reducing emissions of unburned hydrocarbons by 85 percent. The EPA's enforcement was in large part responsible for a decline of one-third to one-half in most air-pollution emissions in the United States from 1970 to 1990, and during the 1980s the pollution standards index improved by half in major cities; significant improvements in water quality and waste disposal also occurred. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (also called the Superfund), providing billions of dollars for cleaning up abandoned waste dumps, was first established in 1980, but the number of those waste sites and the difficulties of the cleanups remained formidable for years thereafter.

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Universalium. 2010.

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