Environmental Protection Agency

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US Environmental Protection Agency
- EPA -

State level Federal authority
position independent authority
founding 2nd December 1970
Headquarters Washington, DC
Authority management Andrew R. Wheeler
Servants approx. 17,000
Web presence www.epa.gov

The United States Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA or USEPA , German  Environmental Protection Agency ) is an independent agency of the Government of the United States of America for environmental protection and the protection of human health .

The EPA was established in 1970 under President Richard Nixon . Its headquarters are in Washington, DC, in the Ariel Rios Building on Pennsylvania Avenue . The authority employs around 17,000 people.

It should accompany the implementation of environmental protection laws, such as the Clean Air Act . The Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training (OCEFT), its own law enforcement and investigative authority, has existed since 1982 . She received full police powers in 1988.



The Republican President Richard Nixon founded the agency in December 1970. The motives for founding the agency are seen today more in the political pressure of the public than in Nixon's insight. EPA first head William Ruckelshaus , an Indiana Republican, said Nixon founded the EPA because of "public protests against environmental degradation. Not because Nixon shared their concern, but because he had no other option. "

Six days after Earth Day 1970, Nixon authorized US forces to invade Cambodia from Vietnam ; which led to major protests on the streets of the United States. According to Ruckelshaus, Nixon saw opponents of the war and environmentalists as the same father's child (“birds of a feather”); both embodied in his opinion a weakness in American society ("both reflected weakness in the American character.")

Clean Air Act

As one of the first measures of the new authority, Ruckelshaus campaigned for the creation of the Clean Air Act  of 1970. The EPA was given authority to regulate air quality polluting emitters. This law is still considered to be a great success of US environmental legislation and led to the technical and environmentally friendly further development of internal combustion engines. The EPA estimated at the time that approximately 5,000 Americans died annually from air pollution disease.

Clean Water Act

The Clean Water Act followed in 1972, which is the basis for water and marine protection on the coasts of the USA to this day. Authority chief Ruckelshaus was head of the "Stream Pollution Control Board" in Indiana in the early 1960s. At that time, the committee set up rules for water protection, but hardly followed their compliance. Together with water engineers from his agency, he traveled through Indiana in a truck and took water samples. The EPA compared this with the fish found in the waters.

In 1969 the Cuyahoga River near Cleveland was on fire after an oil leak. That too alarmed the US environmental movement and helped enforce the Clean Water Act. The basis was the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948, which still forms the basis for the Clean Water Act today. The scope of the Clean Water Act includes the restoration of the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the water ("... to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters ...") as well as the maintenance of this state.

Mingo Logan's lawsuit against EPA

From 2009 to 2014, a legal dispute over the revocation of an already issued mining license in the mountaintop removal mining proceedings occupied several courts in Washington, DC.The multi-year dispute in which the pollution of water resources was to be assessed was decided in favor of the defendants (EPA). Some media and environmental protection organizations rated the outcome as pointing the way for the future of MTR mining.

Exhaust scandal

The EPA started the emissions scandal with international consequences in the entire automotive industry in 2015. She made public that various automakers had manipulated their emissions values ​​using software, thereby violating US law. On September 18, 2015, the EPA sent the Volkswagen Group of America a Notice of Violation for the first time with legal allegations of violations of the Clean Air Act . In 2017, the EPA declared that Fiat-Chrysler had also manipulated emissions values.

Presidency Trump

In the course of the presidency of Donald Trump , who appears as a “ climate skeptic ” and announced in the election campaign that he would reduce environmental protection measures, the EPA was and will be fundamentally changed into a business-friendly agency. The changes go far beyond what has been observed under previous presidents such as Ronald Reagan or George HW Bush . According to a study from April 2018, it is close to being appropriated by industrial interests ( regulatory capture ).

Among other things, it is to be greatly reduced in size, thus taking into account the environmental policy reversal of the Trump administration. The EPA's transition team was led by Myron Ebell , a lobbyist who works for the conservative think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute and, as the leader of the Cooler Heads Coalition , is counted among the central figures of the organized climate change denial scene. In late January 2017, Ebell said he expected Trump to lay off at least half of EPA workers and to cut the organization's budget significantly.

Personnel policy

Scott Pruitt was appointed as the new head , also a climate change denier who led the fight against climate protection measures of the then President Barack Obama during his time as Attorney General of Oklahoma . Together with other Republican Attorneys-General and companies from the energy sector, he campaigned against measures to protect the environment , the climate and health . Between 2011 and 2016, he sued the EPA 13 times with the aim of lifting or relaxing environmental protection measures. Pruitt resigned from his post on July 5, 2018 after many scandals.

At least four high administrative positions in the EPA were filled with close confidants of James Inhofe , who (as of 2011) is considered the most prominent climate change denier in US politics. As one of his first acts at the EPA, Pruitt lifted the obligation for oil and gas companies to collect data on methane emissions in their production activities .

At the beginning of May 2017 it was announced that the contracts of 9 of the 18 members of the Scientific Advisory Board would not be renewed. The dismissed committee members are now to be replaced by representatives of industrial companies. An EPA spokeswoman said Pruitt believes the panel should be made up of people who understand the effects of government regulation on industry. As a result of these decisions, the number of scientists doing research at universities on the Scientific Advisory Board halved, while the number of members sent to the Board by industrial companies and consulting firms tripled.

In October 2017, Trump nominated coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as deputy head of the EPA. Wheeler had held a prominent position as a lobbyist for the energy industry since 2009 and in this capacity had sued the EPA several times. He had previously worked with blogger Marc Morano for Senator Jim Inhofe , who once brought a snowball to a Senate meeting and cited its existence as evidence against the existence of global warming. Inhofe and Morano welcomed Wheeler's nomination; Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club expressed sharp criticism. The nomination also attracted attention because Trump had signed an executive order in January 2017 that stipulated that lobbyists would not occupy any posts in his administration where they would come into contact with their previous work as a lobbyist. Wheeler received approximately $ 370,000 in fees for his work as a lobbyist from coal company Murray Energy , his company between 225,000 and 559,000 dollars in the nine years of his activity. In April 2018, he was confirmed as EPA deputy director by the US Senate.

Reshaping under President Trump

On January 25, five days after taking office, Trump banned EPA scientists from providing information to the public and journalists through social media . In addition, new hires of scientists and research grants have been canceled until further notice. The Trump administration also ordered that all studies and data from EPA scientists be checked politically before they are published, which also applies to the EPA website. On the same day, it was announced that Trump's instructions should remove all global warming information from the EPA website. A day later, this plan was withdrawn after considerable criticism. Finally, at the end of April, the EPA's website was redesigned, with climate-related pages being deleted or moved to the archive. Among other things, this concerned a site that had previously acted as the "official government site for comprehensive information on climate change and global warming". Data on major polluters and reports on the effects of climate change on human health have also been removed. The aim of the changes is to reflect the new course of the EPA under Trump and to avoid confusion due to outdated information.

Alongside this, a popular website designed to educate school children about global warming has also been moved so that it can no longer be found on the EPA website itself or a Google search. Further redesigns concerned z. B. EPA's Office of Science and Technology, which u. a. is responsible for the creation of water protection guidelines. Among other things, a passage was deleted from the job description stating that the facility is "science-based". Instead, "technically and ecologically achievable standards" are to be developed from now on, which is interpreted by critics in such a way that public health and science are to play a subordinate role in the future compared to the interests of commercial enterprises.

Scientists have been organizing "Data Rescue Events" since December 2016 in order to copy as much public data as possible and store it in a secure archive: They started the datarefuge.org project ("Data Refuge"). In addition, scientists, including the EPA, set up anonymously unofficial social media accounts in order to circumvent the ban on disseminating research results via social media.

On March 16, 2017, the Trump administration presented its budget plans, which have yet to be confirmed by Congress . According to this, the budget of the EPA is to be cut by 31%; Other scientific institutions and authorities with environmental, climate and health research such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Energy are also expected to experience major budget cuts. At the EPA, research projects for the Clean Power Plan are to be discontinued and all research programs and research partnerships related to climate research are to be canceled without replacement. Funding for the elimination of toxic substances is expected to be cut by $ 330 million and for air and water protection enforcement by $ 129 million, or approximately 20%. More than 50 other environmental programs - for example, to clean up the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay , to increase energy efficiency , to combat the effects of global warming and to reduce air pollution - are either to be canceled entirely or transferred to US states. The EPA's research and development budget is slated to be cut in half. In addition, around one in five EPA employees will be laid off. According to Mick Mulvaney , head of the Office of Management and Budget , President Trump wants a small environmental agency and it is not possible "to dry up the swamp and leave everyone in it". He also announced that the Trump administration wanted to stop climate research because it considered it to be a "waste of money".

At the end of March 2017, during a visit to the environmental agency, Trump issued a decree intended to reverse many environmental and climate protection programs. These had previously been enacted under Barack Obama in order to comply with the Paris climate protection treaty passed by 195 countries around the world in 2015 . Among other things, Trump commissioned EPA boss Scott Pruitt to "suspend, revise or repeal" the Clean Power Plan, which provided for emissions reductions from existing and new power plants . He also directed federal agencies to override or improve policies that could hinder domestic energy production. The decree also abolished guidelines that provided that climate change must be taken into account in political enactments and infrastructure projects. During the signing ceremony at EPA headquarters, Trump announced in the presence of coal workers that his administration would end the "war on coal". In early July 2017, a federal appeals court blocked the EPA's attempt to lift limits introduced under Obama for emissions from oil and gas wells. It declared the attempted repeal as "unfounded", "arbitrary" and "unpredictable". The EPA must implement the Clean Air Act and should not stop law enforcement without reasons.

In August 2017 it became public that the EPA's research funding is now being subject to a political review. Applications for research funding from EPA scientists or third-party institutions such as universities, educational offers and environmental programs are now decided by a position in the EPA's public relations office instead of scientists who are familiar with the matter . According to the media, the PR employee selected for this position does not have any scientific qualifications and previously worked. a. in a political consultancy firm and on Donald Trump's campaign team. Among other things, he instructed employees to sift through applications for the word "climate change" and to eliminate all references to this from the applications. In addition, he subsequently deleted some projects that had already successfully passed the approval process. The EPA museum is also slated to be redesigned to downplay global warming. Instead of the climate change-related exhibition, an exhibition on coal may be created.

On October 9, 2017, EPA administrator Pruitt announced in the coal-mining town of Hazard, Kentucky , that he wanted to repeal Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan: The "war on coal" was over. A day later he signed an order to that effect. The Clean Power Plan planned to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 32% between 2005 and 2030. Due to the avoidance of climate and health damage, the Clean Power Plan would also have generated an economic gain of around 25 to 45 billion dollars in 2030.

To turn this economic profit in an economic loss, the EPA changed the method of calculation of the social costs of carbon emissions ( Social Costs of Carbon ) massively to the value of around $ 50 / ton on the politically predetermined value of a dollar / ton small attribute carbon dioxide . In the event of climate damage caused by US emissions, the EPA only takes into account the direct effects in the USA itself, while the effects on all other states are ignored. This reduces the amount of damage to about a quarter of its real value. In addition, the discount rate for future climate damage has been increased to 7%; a sentence that is considered completely excessive among economists. With this arithmetic trick, future climate damage appears to be small with today's purchasing power. Third, in its assumptions, the EPA doubled the costs for the energy industry resulting from the introduction of the Clean Power Plan. Fourth, health benefits have been discounted by treating any improvement in air quality in areas where the limit values ​​are already met as if it did not result in any further reduction in health costs. With these four computing tricks, which, according to the Süddeutscher Zeitung, all massively contradict scientific findings, the EPA succeeded in achieving the desired low values ​​of one dollar / ton and thus turning the economic advantages of the Clean Power Plan into a disadvantage the abolition could be justified. Internationally, the social costs of carbon are much higher: The Federal Environment Agency cites 145 euros / ton, the World Bank 50 to 100 dollars / ton. Similarly, under Pruitt, the EPA calculates the social costs of methane.

A few days later, the EPA leadership banned three of its scientists from giving lectures at a scientific conference . Reasons for this arrangement were not given. An EPA spokesman said the scientists were allowed to attend the conference but not speak there. The scientists had previously participated in a multi-year, peer-reviewed study in which the ecological situation of Narragansett Bay was examined and which is now to be presented at the conference. This 500-page technical report had shown that while Narragansett Bay is becoming cleaner, it is also endangered by nutrient inputs and global warming.

List of administrators

The administrators of the agency are appointed by the President and must be approved by the Senate.

Term of office Surname president
1970-1973 William Ruckelshaus Richard Nixon
1973-1977 Russell E. Train Richard Nixon , Gerald Ford
1977-1981 Douglas M. Costle Jimmy Carter
1981-1983 Anne Gorsuch Ronald Reagan
1983-1985 William Ruckelshaus
1985-1989 Lee M. Thomas
1989-1993 William K. Reilly George Bush
1993-2001 Carol M. Browner Bill Clinton
2001-2003 Christine Todd Whitman
2003-2005 Michael Leavitt George W. Bush
2005-2009 Stephen L. Johnson
2009-2013 Lisa P. Jackson Barack Obama
2013-2017 Gina McCarthy
2017-2018 Scott Pruitt Donald Trump
2018–? Andrew R. Wheeler Donald Trump


The Federal Clean Car Incentive Program , which was launched in 1970 and attempted to implement American studies for an electric hybrid vehicle, was - although initially strongly promoted - stopped in 1976 by the United States' environmental protection agency.

In the summer of 2011, US Republicans criticized the EPA for endangering the economy and destroying jobs. You requested z. B. a cut of the EPA budget for 2012 by 20% and a curtailment of the competences of the EPA.

Paul Krugman, on the other hand, is finally calling for the implementation of environmental protection guidelines, especially against mercury , and considers the fight against a functioning environmental agency to be an ideological common property of all Republicans.

In 2017, the agency came under criticism of its boss Scott Pruitt , because it publicly announced that it would dismiss scientists from the external advisory body if they received funding from the EPA in order to ensure that the experts are independent of politics. It is noticeable that the measures are intended to prevent the independent government organization EPA from exerting influence, but not influencing or financing committee members by industry. Deborah Swackhamer, professor of environmental sciences and the chairman of the panel at the time, said: "The project is clearly directed against scientists who do not represent the interests of companies." According to WHO science advisor Chris Pointer , the EPA had already done so in 2014/15 the carcinogenic effect of the active ingredient glyphosate in pesticides is assessed as sufficiently proven after reviewing several animal studies. In the studies, glyphosate could be suggested to induce oxidative stress , a carcinogenesis factor . Criticism arose when the EPA's external advisory body suggested a re-evaluation of the studies, according to which precisely these explosive studies were rated as irrelevant. On the basis of this and other evidence, which has been appearing more and more since the presidency of Donald Trump , the independence of the EPA is now being publicly questioned.

In pop culture

In the animated film The Simpsons , the EPA is parodied. Due to pollution from Homer Simpson, the EPA decides to place a giant bell jar over the fictional city of Springfield . This causes outrage among the residents, which is directed against Homer and not against the EPA.

In the twelfth episode of season four , "Homer Gets Going" (original title "Marge vs. the Monorail"), Mr. Burns was arrested by EPA officials while he was illegally dumping nuclear waste. It also appears briefly in season 13 , episode 2, with the title "In the beginning was the screech caterpillar" (original title "The Frying Game").

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/epa-history
  2. EPA CID ( Memento of June 24, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  3. a b c 5 Reasons to Like the US Environmental Protection Agency . December 9, 2016 ( nationalgeographic.com [accessed June 2, 2017]).
  4. Summary of the Clean Water Act: 33 USC §1251 et seq. (1972) , Laws & Regulations, Environmental Protection Agency (English)
  5. "Integrity" (translated as a whole) means a kind of completeness; Water should not only be clean, but also in a natural form, according to Wetlands Explained: Wetland Science, Policy, and Politics in America: Wetland Science, Policy, and Politics in America , Center for Limnology, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences University of Colorado, Oxford University Press, USA, 2001, ISBN 978-0 -19803-0218 , pp. 50f. (English)
  6. ^ The Clean Water Act: Protecting and Restoring our Nation's Waters , Water: Clean Water Act 40th Anniversary, Environmental Protection Agency (English)
  7. SPIEGEL ONLINE, Hamburg Germany: Environmental pollution: US authorities accuse Fiat Chrysler of exhaust gas manipulation - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Auto. In: SPIEGEL ONLINE. Retrieved January 12, 2017 .
  8. Lindsey Dillon et al. a .: The Environmental Protection Agency in the Early Trump Administration: Prelude to Regulatory Capture . In: American Journal of Public Health . tape 108 , S2, April 26, 2018, doi : 10.2105 / AJPH.2018.304360 .
  9. Leif Frederickson et al. a .: History of US Presidential Assaults on Modern Environmental Health Protection . In: American Journal of Public Health . tape 108 , S2, April 26, 2018, doi : 10.2105 / AJPH.2018.304396 .
  10. a b Trump bans agencies from 'providing updates on social media or to reporters . In: The Guardian , January 25, 2017. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  11. a b Donald Trump to sack climate change scientists and slash Environmental Protection Agency budgets, says official . In: The Independent , January 27, 2017. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  12. ^ Riley E. Dunlap, Aaron M. McCright: Organized Climate Change Denial , in: John S. Dryzek, Richard B. Norgaard, David Schlosberg (Eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society . Oxford University Press 2011, pp. 144-160, esp. 151.
  13. a b A coal lobbyist heads the American environmental agency . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , February 17, 2017. Accessed February 17, 2017.
  14. Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, Climate Change Denialist, to Lead EPA In: The New York Times , December 7, 2016. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  15. Here are all the climate deniers and oil flacks who can't get enough of Trump's EPA pick . In: Mother Jones . ( motherjones.com [accessed January 26, 2017]).
  16. ^ Coral Davenport: Scott Pruitt, Trump's EPA Chief, Resigns Under Cloud of Ethics Scandals . In: The New York Times , July 5, 2018. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  17. How James Inhofe is upending the nation's energy and environmental policies. In: The Washington Post , March 14, 2017. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
  18. ^ Riley E. Dunlap, Aaron M. McCright: Organized Climate Change Denial. In: John S. Dryzek, Richard B. Norgaard, David Schlosberg (Eds.): The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society. Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 144-160, esp. 153.
  19. zeit.de March 26, 2017: The destruction of Obama's climate protection legacy begins.
  20. ^ EPA removes half of scientific board, seeking industry-aligned replacements . In: The Guardian , May 8, 2017. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  21. ^ Swamp science. Scott Pruitt embarks on a campaign to stifle science at the EPA . In: The Economist , April 26, 2018. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  22. ^ A b Trump nominates coal lobbyist to help lead Environmental Protection Agency . In: The Independent , October 8, 2017. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  23. Senate confirms a former coal lobbyist as Scott Pruitt's second-in-command at EPA . In: Washington Post , April 12, 2018. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  24. Trump administration: EPA studies, data must undergo political review before release . In: The Guardian , January 25, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  25. Donald Trump orders Environmental Protection Agency to delete all climate change information from its website . In: The Independent , January 25, 2017. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  26. Robin Bravender, Hannah Hess: Trump officials suspend plan to delete EPA climate web pages . In: Science . 2017, doi : 10.1126 / science.aal0654 .
  27. EPA wipes its climate change site day before march on Washington . In: The Guardian , April 29, 2017. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
  28. ^ The EPA just buried its climate change website for kids . In: Washington Post , May 6, 2017. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  29. ^ The EPA's Science Office Removed "Science" From Its Mission Statement . In: The New Republic , March 7, 2018. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  30. See e.g. B. datarefuge.org , ppehlab.org/datarefuge ( Memento of the original from January 28, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. or envirodatagov.org (January 28, 2017) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.ppehlab.org
  31. Trump's War on Science . In: Kurier , January 31, 2017. Accessed January 31, 2017.
  32. ^ Sara Reardon, Jeff Tollefson, Alexandra Witze & Erin Ross: US science agencies face deep cuts in Trump budget . In: Nature . 2017, doi : 10.1038 / nature.2017.21652 .
  33. Trump budget would gut EPA programs tackling climate change and pollution . In: The Guardian , March 16, 2017. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
  34. Jeff Tollefson: How Trump plans to wipe out Obama-era climate rules . In: Nature . March 28, 2017, doi : 10.1038 / nature.2017.21726 .
  35. ^ Court Blocks EPA Effort to Suspend Obama-Era Methane Rule . In: The New York Times , July 3, 2017. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  36. EPA runs all grants past a political appointee in its PR office . In: Ars Technica , September 5, 2017. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  37. At a moment climate change is hard to ignore, the EPA is being pointed elsewhere . In: Washington Post , September 7, 2017. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  38. At EPA museum, climate-change displays are out and coal may be on the way in . In: Chicago Tribune , July 30, 2017. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  39. ^ Scott Pruitt signs a measure to repeal the Clean Power Plan . In: The Economist , October 10, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  40. ^ The war on coal is over. Coal lost. . In: The Guardian , October 16, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  41. Pruitt Puts Coal Before Children | Scribd. Retrieved October 23, 2017 .
  42. a b Trump's bizarre climate bill . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , November 20, 2017. Accessed November 22, 2017.
  43. EPA Revises the social cost of a Potent Greenhouse Gas . In: Scientific American , November 20, 2017. Retrieved November 22, 2017.
  44. EPA yanks scientists' conference presentations, including on climate change . In: Washington Post , October 22, 2017. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  45. EPA kept scientists from speaking about climate change at Rhode Island event . In: The Guardian , October 23, 2017. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  46. 'Let us do our job': Anger erupts over EPA's apparent muzzling of scientists . In: Washington Post , October 23, 2017. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  47. Wheeler's Profile on the EPA's official website, accessed August 19, 2019
  48. HybridCars.com ( Memento from May 23, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  49. ^ The Republicans' campaign against environmental protection , zeit.de, August 5, 2011
  50. ^ Paul Krugman: Springtime for Toxics , The New York Times , December 25, 2011
  51. a b EPA: US environmental agency wants to exchange unpleasant scientists . In: Spiegel Online . November 1, 2017 ( spiegel.de [accessed February 19, 2018]).
  52. Westdeutscher Rundfunk: wocomoDOCS: Poison in the field - Glyphosate, the underrated risk? Period 28: 16-29: 39. In: YouTube.com. WDR series "die story", February 11, 2015, accessed on February 19, 2018 .