Environmental Protection Agency

Fact Box

United States Environmental Protection Agency

Formed on December 2, 1970
Headquarters- 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.
Administrator -- Gina McCarthy
Employees (2010) 17,384
Annual budget (2015) $9.4 billion
Website- epa.gov

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is tasked with protecting the natural environment and public health as it relates to the environment. Its primary responsibility is to establish and enforce national standards relating to the environment; this is carried out through research, assessment and education. The EPA handles ground, water and air pollution, including containment and prevention. Hazardous waste disposal also falls under the jurisdiction of the EPA, and includes oil and chemical spills.


The EPA was created in 1970 by President Richard Nixon in order to repair damage done to the natural environment and to establish standards to prevent further degradation. The EPA consolidated into one agency the federal research, monitoring, standard-setting, and enforcement that had previously been carried out by disparate departments.

During the 1960s, the public’s awareness of the environment began to extend past the naturalist’s appreciation and into the concern of modern day environmentalists. This shift was greatly facilitated by Rachel Carson, whose 1962 book Silent Spring alerted the public to the extensive dangers of pesticides and other pollutants. A decade later in 1972, the caustic pesticide DDT was banned by the EPA for most uses in the U.S. The DDT ban was the EPA’s first momentous accomplishment and lifted hopes that the agency would have a significant impact on steering the nation into equilibrium with the natural world. 
During President George W. Bush’s two terms in office, EPA policy was heavily affected by Bush policy and the fact that members of his administration, such as Vice-President Dick Cheney, had ties to the industries that are supposed to be regulated by the EPA. Cheney, for example, was CEO of Halliburton, a multinational corporation that has oil, gas and chemical interests. Through Halliburton, Cheney was tied to oil giants like Chevron, with whom Halliburton carries multi-billion dollar contracts. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was a Chevron Director from 1991 until 2001, when President George W. Bush appointed her as National Security Adviser. President Bush Jr. himself was involved in the oil industry, in ventures that included Arbusto Energy, Spectrum 7, and Harken Energy.
Under the Obama administration, the EPA has reversed much of the controversial activity that took place during the Bush presidency.

What it Does

More than half of all EPA employees are engineers, scientists, and environmental protection specialists. Other employees include legal, public affairs, financial, and computer specialists. 

The following are individual offices within the EPA, as well as their respective responsibilities:

  • Office of Administration and Resources Management
    • human resources/personnel services
    • energy conservation
    • library and other services
    • information resources and telecommunications services
    • general administrative services
    • safety and security
    • property and supply
    • printing and distribution
  • Office of Air and Radiation
    • develops programs, policies and regulations for controlling air pollution
    • is concerned with energy efficiency, air quality, and climate change
  • Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
    • advises the Administrator in matters concerning enforcement and compliance
    • provides direction and review of all enforcement and compliance monitoring activities
    • provides case preparation and investigative expertise for enforcement activities
  • Office of the Chief Financial Officer
    • develops and manages goals-based management system for the EPA
    • strategic planning
    • fiscal and managerial oversight
    • agency-wide budget, resources management
    • agency-wide payroll
  • Office of General Counsel
    • provides agency-wide legal services
    • assists in the formulation of the EPA’s policies and programs as legal adviser
  • Office of Inspector General
    • conducts internal audits and investigations
    • provides leadership, coordination, and recommendations for EPA activities
    • informs senior management and Congress of problems, abuses, and deficiencies relating to EPA programs
  • American Indian Environmental Office
    • develops procedures for the EPA’s international activities
    • assures that adequate resources are provided for international programs
    • conducts evaluations of the EPA’s international activities
    • positions the EPA to take the lead in solving international environmental problems
  • Office of Environmental Information
    • packages environmental information for policy decisions
    • oversees information policies and procedures
  •  Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
    • develops and implements pollution prevention, pesticide, and toxic substance programs
    • recommends policies for implementing the Pollution Prevention Act
    • develops recommendations for EPA research
    • monitors and assesses pollution prevention, pesticide, and toxic substance programs
  • Office of Research and Development
    • responsible for the research and development needs of the EPA’s operating programs
    • participates in the development of EPA policies, standards, and regulations
  • Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
    • provides policy and guidance for the EPA’s solid waste and emergency response programs
    • develops guidelines and standards for disposal of hazardous waste
    • develops and implements programs to respond to hazardous waste spills
    • Oversees the Superfund program
  • Office of Water
    • provides agency-wide policy and direction for the EPA water protection
    • develops and implements water programs
    • evaluates regional water programs
    • develops and implements educational programs
    • strategic planning
    • economic and long-term environmental analysis
    • develops and implements pollution prevention strategies

Where Does the Money Go?

In 2010–11, the EPA has spent $2,513,390,034 in over 37,000 transactions with contracted companies. The types of services that the agency has spent the most on are hazardous substance removal ($232,112,446), architect/engineering ($193,062,371), various unspecified professional services ($177,293,874), technical assistance ($131,457,762), and ADP software ($126,643,714).
The top five providers of such services during that period are:
1. Computer Sciences Corporation                                         $201,663,075
2. CH2M Hill Companies Ltd.                                                  $122,260,207
3. Tetra Tech Inc.                                                                    $76,461,556
4. ICF International Inc.                                                            $76,020,769
5. SRA International Inc.                                                           $67,475,896 

Administrative Regions of the Environmental Protection Agency (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Data on the Environmental Protection Agency
  • http://www.allgov.com/departments/independent-agencies/environmental-protection-agency-epa?agencyid=7326