Agency in Brief: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

What does the agency do, why does it matter for TU, and what are the key programs and partnerships that affect our work?

What does the Environmental Protection Agency Do?

When it comes to the work of restoring and preserving cold-water ecosystems, the EPA is one of Trout Unlimited’s most crucial partners.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an agency of Federal government created to protect human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress.

The EPA is spread across the country, with 10 regional offices, 27 laboratories, and central headquarters in Washington DC. More than half of the EPA’s 15,376 (2016 numbers) employees are engineers, scientists, and environmental protection specialists; other employees include legal, public affairs, financial and information technologists. Although the EPA is not a Cabinet department, the administrator is normally given cabinet rank.

The current EPA chief is Scott Pruitt.

The EPA conducts environmental assessment, research and education to help ensure healthy waters across the country. It has the responsibility of maintaining and enforcing national standards under a variety of environmental laws, in consultation with state, tribal, and local governments. It delegates some permitting, monitoring, and enforcement responsibility to US states and federally recognized tribes. The agency also works with industries and all levels of government in a wide variety of voluntary pollution prevention programs and energy conservation efforts.

How does the EPA Connect to TU’s Mission?

The EPA is a critical partner in protecting healthy waters in the rivers, lakes and streams that trout, salmon and communities rely upon. Some of the key conservation programs administered by the EPA are outlined below:

  • EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 Funding: EPA’s CWA Section 319 funding that is routed through states to groups like TU for water quality projects (stream restoration, abandoned mine restoration). This is a critical funding source for Trout Unlimited’s work across the west — including in MT, CO, ID and in the Klamath River Basin of CA and OR.
  • EPA Small Grants Program: Since its inception in 1994, the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program has awarded more than $24 million in funding to over 1400 community-based organizations, and local and tribal organizations working with communities facing environmental justice issues.
  • Superfund Sites / Supporting Abandoned Mine Cleanup: EPA’s Superfund program is responsible for cleaning up some of the nation’s most contaminated land and responding to environmental emergencies, oil spills and natural disasters. To protect public health and the environment, the Superfund program focuses on making lasting differences in communities and natural spaces. This includes TU’s work to cleanup and restore the Animas River in Colorado, see:

Budget Cuts: A look at the key EPA programs and partnerships that would be impacted by the proposed FY18 budget cuts.

  • Restoration of the Great Lakes — Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).
  • Chesapeake Bay Program
  • Abandoned Mine Cleanup

More information:

Check out the full Agency in Brief Series under the “Agency Partners” tab in the ShoutForTrout Publication.