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What Is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)? What It Does


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a U.S. governmental agency established in 1970 for the purpose of protecting the nation’s public health and environment. The EPA sets and enforces regulations in compliance with laws passed by Congress, mainly dealing with air and water quality, hazardous waste management, and chemicals in commerce. It also conducts environmental assessment, research, and education programs.


The phonetics for the phrase “What is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)? What It Does” would be:Wɒt ɪz ðiː ɪnˌvaɪrənˈmɛntəl prəˈtɛkʃən ˈeɪˌdʒənsi (iː piː eɪ)? wɒt ɪt dʌz

Key Takeaways

  1. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a federal agency in the United States, established in 1970 by President Richard Nixon. Its primary role is to uphold and enforce measures concerning the protection of the environment and the health of the nation’s individuals.
  2. The EPA is involved in creating and enforcing regulations. These regulations are founded on laws passed by Congress, dealing with various types of environmental problems, such as air and water pollution, hazardous waste, chemical safety, and ecosystem management. The goal is to maintain a sustainable environment and ensure the long-term health and well-being of citizens.
  3. The EPA collaborates with various entities, including businesses, non-profit organizations, and state and local governments, to mitigate and manage pollution. It also supports studies and research in the environmental science field, assists in the development of energy-efficient technologies, and educates the public about environmental issues.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a significant establishment in the business and finance sectors due to its regulatory role in ensuring business practices comply with environmental standards. This U.S federal agency is tasked with safeguarding both human health and the environment by enforcing regulations passed by Congress, impacting how businesses operate. Various industries, such as manufacturing, agriculture, and energy production, are subject to EPA regulations which require adherence to specific environmental standards. Complying with these standards often involves a financial commitment from businesses, influencing their operational costs and, potentially, their profitability. Non-compliance may result in hefty fines, enforced clean-ups, and possible legal action, which can significantly affect a company’s financial standing. Therefore, the EPA plays a crucial role in shaping the financial and operational strategies of many businesses.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a federal agency in the United States whose primary purpose is to protect human health and the environment. Established in 1970 by President Richard Nixon, the agency’s role involves developing and enforcing regulations that implement environmental laws enacted by Congress. It aims to ensure clean air, water, and land by imposing standards and laws that restrict harmful environmental activities. The EPA is instrumental in the conservation of biodiversity, control of pollution from industries and other sectors, and managing issues related to waste.

For carrying out its purpose, the EPA conducts scientific research and assessments to identify potential environmental risks and uses these findings to guide policy and decision-making. The EPA is also responsible for handling environmental emergencies and has the authority to issue sanctions to entities that it finds in violation of environmental laws. One of its most significant roles is to educate the public, states, businesses, and other organizations about environmental issues so that they can make informed decisions and take initiatives to protect the environment.


1. BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: In 2010, after the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was heavily involved in the response and cleanup process. The EPA monitored air, water, sediment, and waste generated by the cleanup operations. After the cleanup, the EPA fined BP $20.8 billion, making it one of the largest environmental penalties in U.S. history.

2. Volkswagen Emissions Scandal: In 2015, the EPA played a crucial role in exposing Volkswagen’s scandal, wherein the automaker had installed software in diesel engine cars to cheat emissions tests. This led to significant environmental harm as the actual emissions far exceeded the legal standards. The EPA’s involvement resulted in Volkswagen recalling millions of cars globally and paying billions in fines and settlements.

3. Superfund Program for Hazardous Waste Site Clean Up: Not all businesses behave responsibly with their waste. When they fold or abandon polluted sites, the EPA steps in. Utilizing the Superfund program, the EPA identifies parties responsible for contamination of sites and compels them to clean up the sites. If no responsible party can be found, the EPA conducts the cleanup using federal funds. The Portland Harbor in Oregon is an example where the EPA has designated a region a Superfund site due to high levels of pollution and is orchestrating cleanup efforts.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a federal government agency in the United States responsible for protecting human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress.

When was the EPA founded?

The EPA was established by President Richard Nixon and began operation on December 2, 1970.

What are the main responsibilities of the EPA?

The main tasks of the EPA include enforcing environmental regulations passed by Congress, conducting environmental research, setting environmental standards, and providing educational materials about the environment.

How does the EPA impact businesses?

The EPA can significantly impact businesses that do not comply with environmental regulations. Sanctions can include fines and even cessation of operations. In addition, the EPA can provide incentives for businesses to practice environmentally friendly procedures.

How does the EPA protect human health?

The EPA protects human health by ensuring clean and safe air, water, and land. It works to reduce environmental risk based on the best available scientific information.

How is the EPA administered?

The EPA is led by an administrator, who is nominated by the President and approved by the U.S. Senate. It has 10 regional offices across the country and numerous laboratories.

Can the EPA regulations affect the economy?

Yes, EPA regulations can have significant economic implications. They can lead to closing or downsizing of businesses that are unable to comply, or stimulate growth in sectors such as renewable energy. The agency argues that environmental regulations can also yield economic benefits in the long run, such as reducing health care costs by decreasing pollution.

How can I find out about the specific regulations in my area?

Specific regulations and standards can be found on the official EPA website or by contacting the local or regional EPA office.

Related Finance Terms

  • Clean Air Act
  • Superfund Site Cleanup
  • Environmental Impact Statements
  • Pollution Prevention
  • Endangered Species Protection

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