Founding of the EPA

Some initial notes


President Richard Nixon was initially reluctant to create a federal agency that set, monitored and enforced environmental laws. In 1969, he formed an environmental council and advisory committee, but met with public charges that the organizations had no effectual function. But by January 1, 1970, Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which promised to institute a federal role in environmental protection. Nixon recognized that such federal legislation needed the attention of an exclusive agency. By the summer of 1970, he submitted Reorganization Plan Number Three to Congress, which called for a single entity to govern the United States’ environmental policy [EPA].
The EPA inherited environmental charges that had been arbitrarily assigned to other governmental departments. The Department of Health, Education and Welfare no longer monitored air pollution, water hygiene and waste management; the Department of the Interior no longer had responsibility for federal water quality and pesticide research. Misplaced environmental programs were finally unified under a single agency.


Prior to the EPA, environmental monitoring and protection roles were split up amongst many federal agencies. EPA brought them together under one roof.