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for people who care about the West

What is the Environmental Protection Agency?


The Environmental Protection Agency is charged with safeguarding human health as well as the environment. This executive branch agency writes and enforces environmental regulations in accordance with bedrock laws like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. It also conducts basic research on air quality, chemical safety, ecosystems, and managing contaminated land and water. The EPA’s Superfund program handles remediation at sites contaminated by hazardous substances; in 2017, there were more than 1,300 Superfund sites nationwide, about 250 of them in the West. In recent years, the EPA has given out more than $4 billion annually to support projects like waste cleanups and scientific studies conducted by nonprofits, state environmental departments and other groups. In 2016, its budget was about $8 billion, and it employed about 15,000 people.