The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is tasked with protecting the natural environment and public health as it relates to the environment. Its primary responsibility is to establish and enforce national standards relating to the environment; this is carried out through research, assessment and education. The EPA handles ground, water and air pollution, including containment and prevention. Hazardous waste disposal also falls under the jurisdiction of the EPA, and includes oil and chemical spills.
The EPA was created in 1970 by President Richard Nixon in order to repair damage done to the natural environment and to establish standards to prevent further degradation. The EPA consolidated into one agency the federal research, monitoring, standard-setting, and enforcement that had previously been carried out by disparate departments.
More than half of all EPA employees are engineers, scientists, and environmental protection specialists. Other employees include legal, public affairs, financial, and computer specialists.
Since its inception, the EPA has often failed to be perceived as a protector of the environment, instead being seen as a federal facilitator of industry interests. From energy and chemical companies, automobile manufacturers and mining consortiums to the manufacturing industry writ broad, the EPA frequently finds itself embroiled in conflict between corporate interests, political pressure and conservationists.
EPA Memo Links Pesticide to Honey Bee Die-off
An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) memo surfaced in 2010 that attributed the massive die-off of honeybees to the pesticide clothianidin. The revelation sparked calls for the government to ban the chemical produced by Bayer CropScience. Clothianidin has been banned in Germany, where it was first made and where another wave of honeybee deaths occurred, since 2008.
The EPA took no action against the pesticide, even though it was revealed, in a leaked memo, that its own scientists had deemed “deficient” the one study submitted to the agency in the chemical’s provisional approval process.
Subsequently, a study from Purdue University showed that honeybees’ exposure to clothianidin was greater than previously thought by scientists, and that it continues to poison bees during the whole foraging season, even if it isn’t applied to the plants at that time.
The EPA is reviewing clothianidin’s registration and plans to complete the review by 2018.
The Clothianidin Controversy (Culinate)
EPA Defends Approval of Bayer's Bee-Killing Pesticide (by Sarah Parsons, Change.org)
Study Shows Honey Bees Exposed to High Levels of Bee-Killing Pesticide (Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog)
Are EPA Gas Emission Regulations Killing Jobs or Creating Them?
EPA Administrators (Wikipedia)
Lisa Jackson, the first African American to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is faced with the task of restoring morale to an agency whose scientific advisers and staff were often overruled by the Bush administration on issues ranging from air pollution to global warming. Response from environmentalists to Jackson’s selection was somewhat mixed, owing to her recent leadership at the helm of New Jersey’s environmental protection office.