The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a federal governmental agency dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. The EPA’s mission statement is “to protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment – air, water and land – upon which life depends.”
EPA duties include:
- Protection of all Americans from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work;
- Organize nation wide efforts for reduction of environmental risks based on the best available scientific information;
- Ensure that federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively;
- Guarantee that the factors such as natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade are considered in establishing environmental policy;
- Provide accurate information to communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local and tribal governments for participating in managing human health and environmental risks effectively;
- Make the communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive by environmental protection;
- Ensure that the United States plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment.
The EPA’s performance management process includes strategic and annual planning, performance measurement, performance analysis and reporting, and accountability. The EPA is subject to the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993.
The EPA began its operations in downtown Washington, D.C., on December 2, 1970 with the intent to consolidate a variety of federal research, monitoring, standard-setting and enforcement activities into a single agency to ensure environmental protection.
The EPA shares information and works with businesses, non-profit organizations, and state and local governments through partnerships. Around 17,000 people are employed by the EPA across the country. It is headquartered at Washington D.C and has ten regional offices responsible for several states and territories, and more than a dozen laboratories. More than half of the EPA’s employees are engineers, scientists, and policy analysts. A large number of its employees are legal, financial, public affairs, information and management and computer specialists.
The EPA provides a number of grants to state environmental programs, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and others. These grants are used for a variety of projects including scientific studies helping decision making, and community cleanups.
Some specific EPA grant programs include:
- Brownfields: existing facilities where redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived contamination.
- Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE): provides funding to build broad-based partnerships to reduce environmental risks at the local level.
- Environmental education: projects to help the public make informed decisions that affect environmental quality.
- Environmental Information Exchange Network: provides funding to develop an Internet—based, secure network that supports the electronic collection, exchange, and integration of high-quality data.
- Environmental Justice: includes the EJ Community/ University Partnership Grants Program and the Environmental Justice Through Pollution Prevention Grants Program.
- Fellowships and other student programs: Grants, fellowships, and research associateships
- National Clean Diesel Campaign: building diesel engine emission reduction programs across the country to improve air quality and protect public health.
- Pollution Prevention: provides matching funds to state and tribal programs to support pollution prevention and to develop State-based programs.
- State Innovation Grant Program: provides funds and technical assistance to state environmental agencies to promote testing of innovative approaches in environmental permitting for better results and efficiency.
- Science to Achieve Results (STAR): funds research grants in numerous environmental science and engineering disciplines through a competitive solicitation process and independent peer review.
- Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR): competitively funds environmental technology research at small businesses.
- Water Grants: includes the state revolving funds for drinking water and wastewater, grants for water pollution prevention and wetlands protection, and tribal grants.
The EPA offers a variety of programs for kids of all ages. It organizes the Environmental Kids Club for children to learn how to protect the environment through art and science projects, games, and more. EPA Student Centers provide middle school students with a fun way to learn about the environment and how to protect it. The EPA also runs High School Environmental Centers giving young people a chance to learn about environmental issues and get involved in protecting the environment.
The EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) provides compliance assistance and enforcement for environmental benefit, and risk reduction to human health. As a result of the EPA’s actions we enjoy cleaner air, purer water, and better protected land. The EPA has been working for a healthier environment for the American people for more than 30 years.