EPA 101 for Dummies
When I was helping my 7th grader study the carbon cycle she turned to me with her shocked emoji face to ask, “how can anyone not believe in climate change? It seems like simple science. If you put more carbon dioxide into the air, cut down/destroy the carbon sinks that turn carbon dioxide into clean air then it scientifically makes sense, at least to me, that our air, water and food supplies would suffer. Am I missing something Mom?”
Yes, Virginia there is climate change!
“Well then why would someone want a job to run an organization like the EPA if they don’t believe the science?”
I was silenced!! But thought, GREAT QUESTIONS!
Her 1st question was an innocent one based on science! Her 2nd question…well, that is just human nature!
I was quickly led down a rabbit hole of curiosity about the EPA…
How? Why? What? Where? When?
KTB Learning opportunity:
Educate myself – Change my behavior – Make a difference
Quick “EPA” timeline:
- 1948 – Founding of Interior’s Water Quality Administration because of severe water pollution from sewage, and industrial waste
- 1955 – Founding of National Air Pollution Control Administration formed to address blanket of smog over Los Angeles
- 1962 – Many will attribute the start of the environmental revolution of public opinion and the forming of the EPA to Rachel Carson and her book, Silent Spring.
- 1963 – The Clean Air Act under NAPCA gave them authority to attack interstate air pollution and amended two years later to let them set motor vehicle pollution standards
- 1967 – Air Quality Act of, which re-emphasized the principle of state and local control over air pollution.
- 1969 – UN gave the planet only 10 years to avert environmental disaster
- 1970 –
- January 1 – “in an era of bitter ideological disputes, public opinion was virtually unanimous on the need for the national environmental policy”. Nixon launched into the decade by approving the National Environmental Policy Act and establishing the CEQ (Council on Environmental Quality), the first iteration of the EPA.
- January 22 – President Nixon made a State of the Union address to express his concerns about environmental issues
- February 10 – President Nixon proposes his 37-point environmental action program
- April 22 – the first Earth Day
- December 2 – The EPA was born from several combined agencies after its first EPA Director Ruckelshaus received senate confirmation – The main purpose of the reorganization that gave birth to EPA was to introduce a broad systems approach that would give unique direction to the war on pollution.
- December 31 – The Clean Air Act was the birth of the federal air quality program and set the stage for the federal/state relationship going forward
Many of the original 1970 laws have not drastically changed 47 years later…even though our technologies, consumer products and food chains have.
What does EPA look like now?
- The 2016/2017 EPA mission statement: Protect human health and the environment
- The 2016/2017 EPA Annual Budget: $8.267 billion
- The 2016/2017 EPA Employee Count: 15,078 in 10 Regional Offices, 13 Headquarter Offices
The 2016/2017 EPA Goals Priority Breakdown:
- 45.3% – Protect American waters
- 23.1% – Cleaning up communities
- 13.7% – Climate change
- 9.7% – Protecting human health and enforcing laws and compliance
- 8.2% – ensuring safety of chemicals and prevention of pollution
The 2016/2017 EPA Budget by Appropriation Breakdown:
- $3,280M – 39% – State & Tribal Assistant Grants (is this pipeline payment ???)
- $2,853M – 34.5% – Environmental Programs & Management
- $1,129M – 13.7% – Hazardous Super Fund
- $754M – 9.1% – Science & Technology
- $94M – 1.1% – Leaking underground storage tanks
- $52M – .6% – Buildings and Facilities
- $52M – .6% – Inspector General
- $25M – .3% – Inland oil spill programs
- $20M – .2% – WIFIA – water infrastructure finance & innovation program
- $7M – .1% – E Manifest (?)…is an answer to increased border security requirements and the need for carriers to cross the border in a timely manner without delays
Learn 3 EPA facts.
- Environmental concerns not handled under the EPA:
- workplace concerns (that’s OSHA)
- wildlife concerns (that’s US Army Corps of Engineers)
- endangered species (that’s US Fish and Wildlife Service)
- food safety (that’s FDA)
- product safety (that’s CPSC)
- gardening and farming (that’s your local Agriculture Extension office)
- local landfills (that’s your county environmental agency)
- noise pollution (that’s your local governments)
- common local environmental concerns (usually state government agencies)
- EPA is called a regulatory agency because Congress authorizes it to write regulations that explain the critical details necessary to implement environmental laws. In addition, a number of Presidential Executive Orders (EOs) play a central role in its activities.
- The EPA is charged with administering all or part of 33 environmental laws and EOs to help protect human health and the environment.
Who can keep me informed?
Learn ALL Facts before reacting
Follow the $$$$s
Do NOT believe everything you read from one source…diversify my news
VOTE, VOTE, VOTE…be heard
Measure my impact:
- Installed Countable app
- Applied to work for the new administration – we can change the world from all angles https://apply.whitehouse.gov
Jeanine Behr Getz, author and founder of Kids Think Big LLC. She is committed to environmental advocacy locally, nationally and abroad. Jeanine works with other organizations to raise awareness and improve the health of our children and the natural habitats that teach, inspire and sustain all.