What is the EPA’s mission?
The agency was created by President Richard Nixon in 1970—a time when industrial pollution shrouded cities in smog, turned rivers and lakes into toxic stews of human waste and chemicals, and left shorelines blackened by garbage and oil spills. “Through our years of past carelessness,” Nixon said, “we incurred a debt to nature, and now that debt is being called.” He tasked the new agency with protecting Americans’ health and the environment. For most of the past half-century, Congress and the White House have enacted environmental laws that set out broad policy goals, which the EPA turns into regulations rooted in scientific research. These regulations carry the force of law. Essentially, Congress loans the EPA its constitutional authority to regulate commerce, on the assumption that scientists and technically oriented experts are able to make more specific, up-to-date regulations than legislators can.
A coal-fired power plant in New Mexico: Less regulation