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EPA Formed


President Richard Nixon establishes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 takes effect

President Richard Nixon’s Special Message to Congress in establishing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opens by noting that “[a]s concern with the condition of our physical environment has intensified, it has become increasingly clear that we need to know more about the total environment — land, water, and air. It also has become increasingly clear that only by reorganizing our Federal efforts can we develop that knowledge, and effectively ensure the protection, development and enhancement of the total environment itself.” The President proposed a “far more effective approach to pollution control [which] would: Identify pollutants. Trace them through the entire ecological chain, observing and recording changes in form as they occur. Determine the total exposure of man and his environment.  Examine interactions among forms of pollution. Identify where in the ecological chain interdiction would be most appropriate.” “In organizational terms,” the President concludes, “this requires pulling together into one agency a variety of research, monitoring, standard-setting and enforcement activities now scattered through several departments and agencies. It also requires that the new agency include sufficient support elements — in research and in aids to State and local anti-pollution programs, for example — to give it the needed strength and potential for carrying out its mission.”* Coincident with the establishment of the EPA, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 mandates, for the first time, that federal agencies “include in every recommendation or report on proposals for legislation and other major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment, a detailed statement by the responsible official on … the environmental impact of the proposed action…”**

*President Richard Nixon, Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1970, July 9, 1970,
**National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Sec. 102, 42 USC 4332,

Photo: William Ruckelshaus swearing in as the first Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Seen from left to right: William Ruckelshaus, Jill Ruckelshaus (wife), Chief Justice Warren Burger.


  1970  /  20th Century, U.S. Policy  /  Last Updated September 8, 2020 by Jon Donnelly  /  Tags: , , , , ,
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