Martin R. Lee, Head
Environmental Protection Section
Environment and Natural resources Policy Division
The authorities and responsibilities of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) derive primarily from a dozen major environmental statutes. This report, updated at the beginning of each Congress, provides a concise summary of EPA's present authorities and responsibilities, logically arranged. It abstracts EPA-administered statutes, with each chapter providing a discrete analysis. It also summarizes environmental programs, explains how each Act is structured, defines key terms, and reports the current authorization status of each Act. Efforts have been made to convey the overall strategy of pollution control, and to note the major programs authorized by each Act. At the beginning of each chapter is a list of all major amendments to the parent statute, while the final table in each chapter cites the major U.S. Code sections of the codified statute, offering ready reference to the codified sections. Table 1 shows the current status of statutory authorizations for appropriations, with the expiration date indicating when congressional action may be expected.
While these summaries present the essence of each statute, they are necessarily incomplete. Many details and secondary provisions are omitted, and even some major components are only briefly mentioned. Moreover, this report describes the statutes without discussing their implementation. For example, statutory deadlines to control pollutant discharges and achieve particular mandates have often been missed as a result of delayed standard-setting by EPA. Other CRS products, such as the Issue Briefs, are more current and discuss implementation concerns.
The origin of EPA and the evolution of the major environmental statutes are described in CRS Report 83-34 ENR, Environmental Protection: An Historical Review of the Legislation and Programs of the Environmental Protection Agency. For a more topical update, readers should see CRS issue briefs which describes current issues and legislation associated with implementing these laws and CRS Report 97-80 ENR, Environmental Protection Issues: From the 104th to the 105th Congress. These should provide the reader with a fuller background on EPA's program responsibilities.
Table 1. Schedule
of Expiration of Appropriation Authority
for Major Environmental Laws
(as of January 1997)*
|Statute||Expiration of Authorization|
|Pollution Prevention Act||September 30, 1993|
|Clean Air Act||September 30, 1998|
|Clean Water Act
(a)Wastewater Treatment Aid
(b) Other Programs
|September 30, 1994
September 30, 1990
|Ocean Dumping Act||September 30, 1997|
|Safe Drinking Water Act||September 30, 2003|
|Resource Conservation and Recovery Act||September 30, 1988|
|Superfund (collection of taxes)||December 30, 1995|
|Environmental Planning and Community-Right-To~Know Act||Permanent|
|Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act||September 30, 1991|
|Toxic Substances Control Act||September 30, 1983|
|Environmental Research, Development,and Demonstration Authorization||September 30, 1982|
|National Environmental Policy Act||Permanent|
*House rules require enactment of an authorization before an appropriation bill can be considered; but this requirement can be waived and frequently has been. Thus, while appropriate authorizations in environmental statutes have expired from time to time, programs have continued and have been funded. These dates do not indicate termination of program authority.