Photo: 1970 swearing in of the first U.S. EPA Administrator, B. Ruckelshaus. Source, WA Secretary of State website.
Born in the wake of elevated concern about environmental pollution, the U.S. EPA was established on December 2, 1970, to consolidate in one agency a variety of federal research, monitoring, standard-setting, and enforcement activities to ensure environmental protection.
The agency has played a major role in implementing programs related to environmental laws like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, Clean Air Act (CAA) of 1970, Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972, Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980.
The U.S. EPA does not handle all environmental concerns, as some issues are primarily concerns of other federal, tribal, state, or local agencies. Many environmental programs have been delegated to the states and they have primary responsibility for them.
This guide was last updated by Melanie Knapp in March 2021.