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EPA's Mission Statement

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is charged by Congress to protect the Nation's land, air, and water systems. Under a mandate of national environmental laws, the Agency strives to formulate and implement actions that lead to a compatible balance between human activities and the ability of natural systems to support and nurture life.

The Agency's priorities include emphasizing flexibility and innovation, working in partnerships with private and government groups, and encouraging sound science and engineering. For example, under the "Common Sense Initiative" the Agency looks at pollution industry-by-industry, rather than by using the pollutant-by-pollutant approach of the past. Everyone concerned with a given industry--from manufacturers to community organizations--works together to fashion new strategies to emphasize preventing pollution.

EPA works in partnership with state, county, municipal, and tribal governments to carry out its mission. State and local standards may exceed federal standards, but they cannot be less stringent. EPA works with states and municipalities so they can carry out federal standards consistently but flexibly. The Agency also makes extensive efforts to involve the public in environmental protection. Some laws specifically invite public monitoring; others allow individuals to sue polluters or to notify environmental agencies of violations.

Through research, development, and technical assistance, EPA generates and disseminates sound science and engineering to support its missions. These efforts provide the data that the Agency needs to set and address priorities in identifying, assessing, and managing serious risks to public health and the environment. EPA's research combines the in-house expertise of Agency scientists and engineers with complementary research by universities and nonprofit organizations under a competitive, peer-review extramural program. EPA operates a large website at:

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EPA's Role

EPA administers 11 comprehensive environmental protection laws. These are explained in summary form at the website:
  1. the Clean Air Act
  2. the Clean Water Act
  3. the Safe Drinking Water Act
  4. the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("Superfund")
  5. the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
  6. the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act
  7. the Toxic Substances Control Act
  8. the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act
  9. the Lead Contamination Control Act
  10. the Ocean Dumping Ban Act
  11. the National Environmental Education Act
The text of the laws and the regulations based upon them are accessible at the website:

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EPA's Structure

The Agency is directed by an Administrator and a Deputy Administrator, both appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. Nine Assistant Administrators, the Agency's General Counsel, and its Inspector General, also are named by the President and are subject to Senate confirmation.

The nine Assistant Administrators manage specific programs, such as those protecting the air, water, and land of Americans, or direct other Agency functions, such as enforcement of environmental laws.

Three Associate Administrators are named by the Administrator to carry out programs for public affairs, congressional and legislative relations, and regional, state, and local relations. Ten Regional Administrators work closely with state and local governments to carry out the Agency mission.

The EPA is divided into twelve offices, most of which offer websites containing large amounts of information and publications in downloadable format:

  1. Office of Water: This is the entry point to large water submenus for all 10 EPA regions, and a large publications catalog.
  2. Office of Air and Radiation: This contains many air and pollution prevention publications in downloadable formats.
  3. Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response: This contains many publications in downloadable format listed under the component programs.
  4. Office of Pollution Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances: This offers large publications catalogs listed under "Consumer Information."
  5. Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance:
  6. Office of Research and Development:
  7. Office of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation:
  8. Office of Administration and Resources Management: This includes the very large "Envirofacts" database of articles/
  9. Office of International Activities
  10. Office of Communications, Education, and Public Affairs: This is not a full website, but contains the large and extremely useful "Terms of Environment" glossary.
  11. Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs
  12. Office of Regional Operations and State/Local Relations:

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