IN 1970, pREsiDENT Richard Nixon established the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of an executive reorganization plan. William Ruck-elshaus served as the first administrator, which is the title of the head of the EPA. The mission of the EPA is to protect human health and the environment. Because global warming and climate change can have effects on both human health and the environment, they are encompassed as part of EPA's mission.
structure and mission
The vigor in which EPA pursues climate change research and policy recommendations is usually dependent upon how sympathetic the presidential administration is to such policies. In 2005, the EPA faced some criticism after a former oil lobbyist influenced reports about climate change. Since then, the agency has taken a closer look at the potential effects of global warming. More recently, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered EPA to become even further involved in global climate change remediation by regulating carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. In Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, 12 states and U.S. cities brought suit against the EPA. The U.S. Supreme Court handed down the five to four decision in April 2007.
The EPA is organized into different program and regional offices across the United States, as well as several laboratories. The EPA is charged with several tasks. First, it develops and enforces regulations. Next, the EPA offers financial assistance in the form of research and community grants. Environmental and risk management research is also performed at some of the EPA's laboratories. The EPA also sponsors and facilitates partnerships with a variety of governmental and nongovernmental organizations and businesses. The different divisions engage in environmental education and outreach, as well. Finally, the EPA creates many of publications that are used by multiple stakeholders, businesses, and educational institutions.
The EPA's headquarters are located in Washington, D.C. There are 10 regional offices throughout the Unites States and 12 EPA laboratories. Native American tribes work with the EPA region that includes the state that their reservation borders. In some instances, tribes are delegated specific authority to implement EPA programs on their lands. In other instances, tribes work with the EPA to enforce regulations and alter guidelines. The EPA employs over 17,000 scientists, lawyers, policy analysts, and engineers. Many employees hold post-baccalaureate degrees. The EPA is not considered a cabinet-level agency, however, most presidents appoint the administrator to their cabinet. Usually, when choosing an EPA administrator, a public servant is sought, who is not necessarily a scientist.
regulation and financial assistance
The EPA works to achieve positive results in several program areas. The first of these is to develop and enforce regulations that protect human health and the environment. Congress promulgates laws to limit environmental degradation and maintain human health. The EPA is charged with the task of creating regulations to fill in the specific requirements of the legislation. The EPA's employees conduct research and then set national standards and requirements. At times, the EPA delegates authority to states and tribes for monitoring and compliance. If necessary, the EPA can assist states and tribes in ensuring that specific environmental quality standards are met, or revoke enforcement authority all together.
Next, the EPA offers financial assistance to many stakeholders. Most money is provided directly to states as grants to assist them in administering delegated enforcement requirements and state environmental programs. The EPA also provides many research and fellowship grants for graduate and undergraduate students. These include funding for research, community involvement, small business initiatives, internships, and tribal collaboration programs. The EPA offers several well-known fellowships, such as the National Network for Environmental Management Studies Fellowships, Science to Achieve Results (STAR) fellowships, Public Health fellowships, and American Association for the Advancement of Science fellowships. Each of these opportunities allows graduate students to fund their education, as well as participate in training programs, and conduct innovative research, often incorporating some aspect related to climate change.
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