Environmental Protection Agency
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an agency of the United States federal government, charged with protecting human health and the environment. It was created in 1970 by executive order of President Richard Nixon. While it is not a Cabinet department, its administrator is nominally accorded cabinet rank. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., the EPA employs some 15,000 workers across ten regional offices.
Throughout the 1960s, the American public began to express concern that human activity was negatively affecting the environment. In response, Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, declaring that it was federal policy to protect the environment. President Nixon later created the EPA, reorganizing several federal agencies to consolidate the government’s environmental actions.
In the 1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency was largely responsible for the enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 and the Clean Water Act of 1977. Under the Clean Air Act, in 2011 the EPA began regulating greenhouse gases in the United States. Consumers of major appliances may be aware of the Energy Star program, launched in 1992 in order to foster energy efficiency.
The history of the EPA has not been without controversy. In 2007, then-administrator Stephen L. Johnson approved a document stating that climate change was threatening public welfare. The administration of George W. Bush asked him to rescind the document, which he did, issuing a revised draft. Associate Deputy Administrator Jason Burnett resigned in protest to this political pressuring of the Environmental Protection Agency.