An Overview of the History of the Environmental Protection Agency EPA

The EPA began operation on December 2, 1970 under the Nixon presidency. However, the EPA’s origins can be traced back all the way to 1962. The agency was established due to rising concern over toxins and environmental pollution. President Nixon proposed the institution of the EPA due to there not being any way for the government to regulate environmental pollutants.

The popular concern with environmental issues arose shortly after the publication of Rachel Carson’s novel, Silent Spring. In the book, Ms. Carson used extensive research to show just how poorly pollutants and environmental hazards were being watched and regulated. Her book also took into account how pollutants affect the wildlife population, especially the population of endangered species. Ms. Carson’s book is noted for having helped give rise to the establishment of the EPA.

Upon the EPA’s establishment, the department helped minimize some of the work the other departments had been carrying on. The EPA took over the monitoring of air pollution, water hygiene, and waste management that had once been run by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The new department also inherited the issues of federal water quality and pesticide research that had been governed by the Department of the Interior.

Aside from what most people assume, the EPA is not a Cabinet department. What this means is that the EPA is not run in the same way as the departments under the federal government are. The EPA does however maintain ranking similar to that of cabinet ranking. This means that the president can appoint the head of the department just like he can with the other departments.

Despite the overall desire for the EPA to be a sound and good department, it has been met with its fare share of controversies. The department has been met with much scrutiny over its recent changes and policies that minimize the amount they consult with scientists. Instead of scientists, the company has fallen to rely more on policy-makers, which makes the department more politically fueled than scientifically. With the original intentions for the department to be scientifically led, these recent changes provide an incredible blow to the company’s reliability.

Today, the EPA is known for having conducted many good things (despite the department’s controversies). The EPA helped form the first Earth Day in 1970. The EPA has helped maintain a list of endangered species and has also worked to help remove these species from the list by developing breeding programs. The department has also helped get many acts established, including the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act which enforces that all pesticides that are legally sold within the US must be registered.

Resources and Information:

EPA History

United States Environmental Protection Agency

How the EPA Works