Why we still need EPA.

A friend recently asked me to explain in 30 seconds why EPA is still relevant and needed. I worked at EPA for 38 years. Although I could go into much more detail, here is my response to her in a nutshell.

  1. State efforts to control pollution would be inadequate. There are several reasons for this:

· Economic competition between states and political pressure at the state level would tend to result in weak standards and enforcement,

· Pollution created in one state can affect areas downstream and down wind so that affected areas would have limited options to protect their citizens and environment

2. Laws to control pollution rely on science to establish appropriate standards.

  • Regulations provide the technical details that laws cannot. EPA has a number of laboratories to ensure that its regulations are based on the best science available and to develop test procedures for compliance with its standards.
  • Most states do not have the resources to support regulatory development and compliance, and developing this capability would be duplicative and wasteful.

3. Efforts to protect human health and the environment are ongoing.

  • As an example the Pesticide program at EPA employs approximately 450 persons, mainly technical staff, who review the data on a new pesticide to make sure that it can be used safely.
  • Compliance enforcement is an ongoing action as we saw with the Volkswagen diesel emission standards last year.

4. New environmental issues arise and need resources to deal with them.

  • As an example, in 1996 Congress directed EPA to develop test procedures to determine if a chemical could interact with the endocrine systems of humans or environmental species as such chemicals could affect sexual differentiation, thyroid function and growth and development.
  • A current example is to develop an understanding of climate change and what can be done about it.

More information about EPA can be found at the following:

https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/our-mission-and-what-we-do

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