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Sustainability and pollution prevention are top priorities for today’s governments, businesses and consumers. One of the leading organizations regarding environmental interests is the Environmental Protection Agency. This United States federal agency serves the interests of human health and the environment, promoting accountability and creating a safer place to live.
The EPA is one of the world’s top environmental administrations. Its programs and regulations contribute to a secure, clean and sustainable environment for everyone. Businesses, organizations and individuals should learn more about the EPA, including its history, purposes, scope and various programs.
What Is the EPA? Is the EPA Credible?
As its name suggests, the EPA is a longstanding, credible national agency in charge of protecting the environment. As a federal agency, its purpose is to protect human and environmental health across the nation. It has been in operation for over 50 years. When the public began to realize the dangers of unregulated pollution, the federal government had to take action. As a result, President Richard Nixon established the EPA in December 1970, as part of a 37-point address on environmental issues.
The EPA’s creation inspired other countries and political regions to form similar organizations. For instance, the Australian state of New South Wales established their Environment Protection Authority, also abbreviated “EPA,” in 1991. The NSW EPA does the same thing as the U.S. agency — works to protect human health and the environment.
Why Does the EPA Exist?
While environmental sustainability and cleanliness are common topics of discussion today, they were new priorities when the EPA first came into being. In the 1960s, a few milestones led to widespread concern about the environment. Such watershed moments sparked unprecedented public concern about the state of the environment, which led the Nixon administration to create the EPA. These events included:
- Marine biologist Rachel Carson published “Silent Spring,” a book criticizing pesticide use and its polluting effects.
- Astronauts began photographing Earth from space.
- An oil spill from an offshore rig near California contaminated beaches.
- Ohio’s Cuyahoga River burst into flames due to chemical contaminants.
- Times Beach disaster in Missouri.
- The Love Canal tragedy.
What Does the EPA Do?
The EPA has the power to create and enforce laws serving environmental interests. EPA regulations seek to ensure Americans have access to clean air, water and land. The EPA’s primary duties include:
- Creating and enforcing legislation.
- Educating the public.
- Conducting research and development.
- Issuing grants to schools, nonprofit organizations and state programs.
- Other relevant tasks.
What Doesn’t the EPA Do?
Because of the EPA’s name and mission, it’s easy to get confused about what the agency does and does not do. The EPA does not handle every environmental-related concern. Here some examples of things the entity is not responsible for.
- Food safety: The Food and Drug Administration manages food safety, even issues that are relevant to environmental concerns.
- Endangered species: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protects endangered species, not the EPA.
- Hunted animals: Local or state wildlife officers regulatecommon game animals, such as rabbits, deer and birds.
- Wetlands: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues wetland-use permits.
- Nuclear waste: Rather than the EPA, the Office of Environmental Management in the Department of Energy handles concerns related to nuclear waste.
A Look Into Different EPA Programs
To achieve its goals, the EPA oversees many different programs which help conserve vital resources, promote sustainability and prevent dangerous pollution. These initiatives are why the EPA plays a crucial role in environmental and human safety. Here are seven examples of EPA programs and how they serve the agency’s objectives.
1. Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) Program
TheResponsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) Program is a voluntary partnership program that helps protect the ozone layer and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. RAD program partners recover ozone-depleting chemicals from old refrigerators, freezers, window air conditioners, and dehumidifiers.
2. The EPA Safer Choice Program
The Safer Choice Program, once called Design for the Environment, helps protect consumers from hazardous chemicals. It’s a product-labeling regulation, meaning companies must meet the EPA’s strict set of standards to earn an EPA-certified label. The updated Safer Choice label is a simple blue-and-green logo. It says the product meets the program’s specifications.
It’s a voluntary program, which means companies must choose to invest in earning the label. Before issuing an official label, the EPA reviews product ingredients, performance, pH levels, packaging and other elements. Ingredients have to be nontoxic, safe for families and the environment. The product must also have adequate performance, sustainable packaging, non-irritating pH levels and limited volatile organic compounds.
3. The Energy Star Program
You’ve likely seen Energy Star labels on appliances. Energy Star is a joint program of the Department of Energy and the EPA, which identifies energy-efficient, high-performing and cost-effective products. Conserving energy helps business leaders and homeowners alike by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and decreasing the burden of utility expenses.
Similar to Safer Choice and Energy Star, the WaterSense program labels water-efficient products. WaterSense products include toilets, faucets, showerheads and other household appliances. Each product uses 20% less water, conserves energy and performs at least as well as traditional models. Conserving water is a crucial priority for environmental sustainability — though it’s a renewable resource, less than 1% of Earth’s water is fit for human use, and water shortages are a severe concern.
5. The Smart Growth Program
Smart Growth is a broad-scope program that helps communities create safe, sustainable development. As communities grow, they can profoundly affect the environment and nearby residents. According to the EPA, Smart Growth involves a few guiding principles, including compact building design, walkable neighborhoods, open spaces and decision collaboration.
6. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System limits pollution in United States waterways, issuing permits for limited discharge. While participation in many EPA programs is voluntary, any business, farm or other organization must have an NPDES permit to discharge pollutants. The EPA enforces compliance with monetary penalties, civil and criminal prosecution. Since facility monitoring reports are available to the public, anyone can pursue independent legal action, too.
WasteWise helps organizations and businesses apply sustainable materials management practices to reduce municipal and select industrial wastes.
Contact Hazmat School for Compliance Training
EPA programs and regulations help limit pollution, promote sustainable practices and result in a cleaner, safer environment for everyone. Complying with EPA guidelines is not only necessary, but is also beneficial for a business. It’s a good idea to seek professional, comprehensive training to better understand these regulations.
If you’re looking for simple, versatile compliance training, consider Hazmat School. We provide training for EPA regulations, OSHA regulations and hazardous materials shipping. Whether you’re a business owner looking to educate new employees or an individual looking to broaden your marketability, such courses are essential. We offer on-site training and remote instruction to serve your unique needs. To learn more about our training certificate programs, contact us today.