Federal agencies in the United States are established through enabling legislation known as organic acts. These acts create and empower agencies, as well as define and limit their roles. Congress delegates a certain amount of authority to each agency, allowing its officials to develop regulations to ensure that the agency's duties will be achieved. Congress grants this authority to agencies because the legislature cannot always foresee all the elements that will be
MAJOR U.S. POLLUTION CONTROL LAWS
Clean Air Act (1970) 42 USC §§7401-7671q, 40 CFR Part 50
Clean Water Act (1977) 33 USC §121 et. seq. 40 CFR Parts 100-140; 400-470
Safe Drinking Water Act (1974) 43 USC § 300f et. sec. 40 CFR Parts 140-149
Oil Pollution Act of 1990 33 USC §6602 et. seq. 40 CFR Part
Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (1976) 42 USC §321 et. seq. 40 CFR Parts 240-271
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, & Liability Act (1980) 42 USC §§9601-9675 40 CFR Part 300
Toxic Substances Control Act (1976) 15 USC §2601 et. seq. 40 CFR Parts 700-799
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (1972) 7 USC §§136-136y 40 CFR Parts 162-180
Food Quality Protection Act (1996) Public Law 104-170
Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 42 USC §13101 et. seq.
Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Act (1986) 42 USC §11011 et. seq.
Occupational Safety & Health Act (1970) 29 USC §61 et. seq.
Noise Control Act (1972) 42 USC §49G1 et. seq. 4G CFR Parts 2G4, 211
National Environmental Policy Act (1969) 42USC 4321-4347
To prevent & control air pollution/Regulates air emissions through National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)
To restore & maintain the integrity of U.S. waters/limits discharges to U.S. waters through National Pollutant Discharge System (NPDES)
To protect U.S. drinking water & supplies from contaminants/ Establishes safe standards for drinking water
To prevent and clean up oil spills in U.S. waters/Establishes fund for response costs and requires vessels & facilities to make plans for responding to oil spills
To promote protection of human health and the environment/ Oversees the handling of solid & hazardous wastes from "cradle to grave"
To oversee the clean up of the worst U.S. hazardous waste sites/ Establishes a "Superfund" to aid in the costs that arise in remediating CERCLA sites.
To understand the health risks of certain chemical substances/ Promotes the development of scientific health risk data
To prevent harm to human health and the environment from pesticide use/To register and classify all pesticides in use and analyze risks & benefits of use
To protect human health from the risks associated with exposure to pesticides/Uses a "risk cup" test for all pesticides & establishes maximum exposure levels for each
To reduce or eliminate pollution/To improve technology & manufacturing & products in order to lower pollution levels
To improve local solutions to pollution emergencies/Directs the creation of State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs)
To ensure that workers will be safe from harmful activities & hazardous exposures in the workplace/Establishes maximum exposure limits for workplace hazards
To prevent damage to human health from the effects of noise pollution/Establishes noise emissions standards and other noise-control measures; Congress has not funded the NCA since 1982, effectively gutting the law.
Established Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ); requires environmental impact statements (EIS) for all "legislation and major federal actions"
All Federal Agencies necessary for pollution-control laws to be effective. Agencies can develop the expertise needed to execute their lawmaking and legally required oversight duties because they have a narrower focus than the legislature.
Agencies spend a great deal of time considering the effectiveness of their regulations. When an agency determines that its goals would be better achieved if its approach was changed or updated, the agency may propose that a new rule be created. The agency then must announce the proposed rule in the Federal Register, where the public is able to consider the change and return feedback on it to the agency. Federal law requires that agencies consider all public comments that are submitted regarding new rules before making their final decision. Any changes to the proposed rule must again be reported in the Federal Register, with new comments solicited from the public. When the final rule is complete, it is printed in the Federal Register as a new statute before it is codified, or entered into the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
Several federal agencies oversee pollution control in the United States. At the top of the regulatory pyramid of agencies focused on pollution control is the EPA, which is assigned the duty of coordinating and overseeing all environmental protection laws nationwide. EPA also monitors the implementation of a number of comprehensive pollution-control laws. In addition, there are numerous federal agencies that regulate more narrowly concentrated areas of pollution control law. These agencies include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Nuclear Safety Regulatory Board (NSRB).
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