Public Health Environmental Protection Agency
by
Mark Robson
  • LAST REVIEWED: 09 September 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 February 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0060

Introduction

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a federal agency of the US government with the responsibility to protect human health and the environment. EPA is charged with the development and enforcement of regulations based on laws passed by Congress. The EPA was established by an executive order of President Richard Nixon and began operation on 2 December 1970. The agency is led by its administrator, who is appointed by the president and approved by Congress. It has regulatory authority through a variety of legislative acts, and also acts as a public health agency that issues advisories and formal risk assessments in areas where it lacks regulatory authority. The EPA’s FY 2010 budget requested $10.5 billion in discretionary budget authority and included a staffing request for 17,384 employees. In the FY 2010 budget request, the agency described its main purpose under five strategic goals: clean air and global climate change, clean and safe water, land preservation and restoration, healthy communities and ecosystems, and compliance and environmental stewardship. EPA headquarters, including its program offices, are located in Washington, DC; it also has ten regional offices around the country. In addition, the EPA operates twenty-seven specialized laboratories throughout the United States that focus on various aspects of environmental research and assessment. This entry includes sections discussing reference resources, reviews and reports, policy assessments, initiatives, historical background, environmental justice, science in decision making, and EPA strategy documents.

Reference Resources

As one might expect, the reference resources for the EPA available on the Internet are enormous: pages and pages of useful information that range from very citizen friendly references and resources, to highly technical writings containing complex data and analytical tools. Described as a new and useful online resource that provides citizen friendly data, and encourages public participation, with transparency and collaboration being its key elements, the Health & Environmental Research Online (HERO) database provides the scientific literature used in risk assessment development. WaterSense is another citizen-friendly database that allows one to explore the issues of water protection and water conservation. The EPA is a federal agency, but many of its programs are delegated to state lead agencies within the fifty states and the territories. Its website is a useful online resource for the agencies that are responsible for protecting environmental quality at the state or territory level. Finally, the EPA budget available online is a very useful resource; it provides details on the resources deployed to protect the nation’s environment, the agency’s staffing levels, dollars spent, and also the major program initiatives of the agency as outlined in the most recent presidential budget.

  • Budget of the U.S. Government: Environmental Protection Agency Washington, DC: The White House, Office of Management and Budget.

    E-mail Citation »

    EPA budget for FY 2011. The main site provides the entire budget for the US government: President Barack Obama’s message, information on the president’s priorities, budget overviews organized by agency, and summary tables.

  • Environmental Protection Agency. About the EPA.

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    Provides an overview of the agency’s organization, units, special laboratories, and programs as well as basic information on staff numbers, budgets, and other resources.

  • Environmental Protection Agency. State Environmental Agencies.

    E-mail Citation »

    A listing of all state EPA agencies in the United States.

  • Health & Environmental Research Online (HERO).

    E-mail Citation »

    HERO, launched in March 2009, is an online database that allows users to browse several topics, keywords, and authors pertaining to the development of EPA’s risk assessments. Risk assessment is a foundational tool that allows the EPA to integrate exposure effects and the related health hazards for humans, and dangers to the environment.

  • WaterSense: An EPA Partnership Program.

    E-mail Citation »

    WaterSense is a collaborative effort that seeks to protect the nation’s water supply through partnerships, education, and awareness. This site contains tools for individuals to learn about smart water practices, suggestions for water-saving products, and links for potential and current partners in the project.

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