The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) And Its Wobbling Journey To Protect The Environment

How a once-proudly touted governmental agency came to what it is today, and what it may tell us about its path moving forward.

Established by Pres. Richard Nixon in 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency marked a milestone in the exhaustive and seemingly ceaseless combat against greenhouse gas emissions. Forged by coalescing several pollution control programs under other departments, the independent executive agency holds the ultimate objective of “creating a better world”, as many policy makers put it. At a time of an inflow of unilateral and often bewildering policies among individual states, the EPA unified such efforts and installed a body to organize limitations at a federal level. In fact, the EPA was one of the first initiatives taken by the government to address the increasingly disturbing threat of excessive pollution — as concerns regarding the environment spiked in the wake of natural disasters — and to curb corporations’ detrimental practices while providing insightful data for the general public. Out of all its unparalleled responsibilities, its liability to monitor the environmental conditions for whatever purposes and the capacity to set and enforce national guidelines makes it a promising player in preserving our environment.

Perhaps one of its most crucial roles is the gathering of data. As you browse through its website, you’d see an entire section dedicated to the showcase of information along with its systemic analysis; this section compiled facts and statistics from thousands of experiments they carry out annually, covering hundreds of topics ranging from air quality of your neighborhood to bugs crawling about in your bedroom. This surplus of information further fortifies its social contract — to keep all citizens informed and stir awareness at the grassroots level — as well as offering a comprehensive and reliable source for scientists and researchers.

Moreover, the agency is obliged to set national environmental restrictions and ensure compliance. Some of its most well-known regulations include the Clean Water Act (CWA) — which amended numerous times after its first imposition — a direct response to the worsening contaminations of the country’s waterways by setting minimum industrial standards for pollutant-intensive corporations and tackling specific issues such as toxic chemicals and oil spills, eventually compelling municipalities across the US to improve their wastewater disposals, and the Clean Air Act of 1990 which called for cutbacks on sulfur dioxide emissions that deplete the ozone layer. These stringent endeavors from the agency keep the industries accountable and incentivize companies to prioritize eco-friendly production methods.

However, the agency has been lately under attack following the switch of administration — which, as of now, is run by a climate denialist. The president is waging a blitzkrieg on the burgeoning environmental activists movement by making alterations to the EPA, coercing it to deviate from its very goal: serving the public. The current version of the agency is nothing less than flat-out screwed up.

Trump has appointed Andrew Wheeler — who, ironically, is an ex-fossil fuels lobbyist — to run the Environmental Protection Agency. As a wave of scrutiny over facts and credibility comes in, the future of EPA rests more elusive than ever. The critical player responsible for our planet’s well-being has been undermined as Trump vows to abolish the agency.

Though the agency had its own ups and downs, the impacts and prominence of the Environmental Protection Agency is not up for debate. The agency has, no doubt, transformed America’s environmental agenda and sounded a wake up call for indecisive politicians. EPA will continue its legacy on conserving our planet and will become more and more significant as the world faces a crossroad on environmental sustainability and economic growth.

Sources:

“The Origins of EPA.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 19 Nov. 2018, www.epa.gov/history/origins-epa.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Environmental Protection Agency.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 6 Feb. 2014, www.britannica.com/topic/Environmental-Protection-Agency.

Holst, Arthur. “Clean Water Act.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 5 Mar. 2015, www.britannica.com/topic/Clean-Water-Act.

Barron, Laignee. “The EPA’s Website After a Year of Climate Change Censorship.” Time, Time, 1 Mar. 2018, time.com/5075265/epa-website-climate-change-censorship/.

Freelance Writer in Environment, Politics and Economics; Scholar located in Kuwait City, Kuwait. | Writer for ILLUMINATION, Dialogue & Discourse and AOA.

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