EPA's Core Mission Authorities
Laws, Regulations & Mandates
Several of EPA’s core mission statutes give EPA the authority to implement key homeland security activities:
- Atomic Energy Act (AEA)
- Clean Water Act (CWA)
- Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)
- Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)
- Oil Pollution Act
- Safe Drinking Water Act
- Stafford Act
- Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)
The Atomic Energy Act (AEA) gives EPA authority to establish standards and guidance to regulate radioactive materials from the production of nuclear energy.
Read more about the Atomic Energy Act (AEA).
The Clean Water Act (CWA) employs a variety of regulatory and non-regulatory tools to reduce direct pollutant discharges into the nation's waterways, finance wastewater treatment facilities, and manage polluted runoff. It also gives EPA the authority to implement pollution control programs and to set wastewater standards for industry and limitations on contaminants in surface waters. The broader goal of the Act is to help restore and maintain the chemical, biological, and physical integrity of the nation's waters. The watershed based strategies in the Act have evolved to give equal emphasis to protecting healthy waters and restoring impaired ones. They also encourage the involvement of stakeholder groups in strategies for maintaining water quality and security.
Read more information on the Clean Water Act (CWA).
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund, was enacted by Congress on December 11, 1980 to address abandoned hazardous waste sites in the U.S. The law has subsequently been amended, by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA), and the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act of 2002.
Read more information on Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).
The Federal Insecticide, Rodenticide, and Fungicide Act (FIFRA) gives EPA the authority and responsibility to register (license) or exempt from registration the sale and use of pesticides, including antimicrobials, for control or inactivation of pests that are a threat to crops, animals, and humans provided the pesticides meet safety standards for human health and the environment. Also under FIFRA, EPA can exempt an unregistered pesticide from the registration process to expedite it use in emergency situations, such as unanticipated and high consequence pathogens that threat human health, crop or livestock production, or food supplies.
Read more about FIFRA Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
The Oil Pollution Act (OPA) was signed into law in August 1990, largely in response to rising public concern following the Exxon Valdez incident. The OPA improved the nation's ability to prevent and respond to oil spills by establishing provisions that expand the federal government's ability, and provide the money and resources necessary, to respond to oil spills.
Read more information on the Oil Pollution Act (OPA).
The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the main federal law that promotes the quality of the nation's drinking water and regulates the public water supply and its sources. It established the first mandatory national program to protect public health by promoting the safety of drinking water. Under the SDWA, EPA:
- Sets standards for drinking water quality;
- Oversees the states, tribes, territories, localities, and water suppliers that implement these standards; and
- Provides a framework for the collaboration of these groups.
A 1996 amendment expanded the Act to further encompass issues of source water protection, training, funding for improvements, the role of public awareness, and protection and prevention activities.
- Download the Safe Drinking Water [Public Health Service Act] (PDF) (124 pp, 311K, About PDF Files) as amended through P.L. 107-377, Dec. 31, 2002
Read more information on Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) was enacted to support state and local governments and their citizens when their resources are overwhelmed by the effects of a disaster. The law establishes the process for requesting and obtaining a Presidential disaster declaration, defines the type and scope of assistance available under the Stafford Act, and sets the conditions for obtaining assistance.
Read more on the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.
The 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) gives EPA responsibility for regulating the safety of chemical substances manufactured, imported, processed, distributed, used, and disposed in the United States. Specifically, it calls on EPA to:
- review new chemicals before manufacture;
- require necessary testing of chemicals by manufacturers, importers, and processors where risks or exposures of concern are found;
- restrict manufacture, import, processing, use, distribution, or disposal of chemicals to mitigate unreasonable risks; and
- work to ensure that chemicals imported into the United States comply with TSCA requirements.
Read more about the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).