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EPA's Homeland Security Roles and Responsibilities

EPA's primary mission is to protect human health and the environment.  This mission remains the same for a wide range of natural and man-made events, hazards and disasters.  In the event of an intentional or unintentional event or disaster that results in biological, chemical or radiological contamination, the nation will look to EPA for expertise in the areas of:

In order to prepare for such events, EPA is working to meet the specific homeland security roles and responsibilities that are laid out in a series of statues, presidential directives and national frameworks. EPA may be assigned lead/co-lead, support or mandatory roles and responsibilities by these authorities.

When EPA is identified as having a "lead" or "co-lead"role, EPA is explicitly tasked to lead, direct, or coordinate federal/state/local protection, prevention, preparedness, mitigation, response or recovery efforts.  Sometimes EPA is identified as having a "support" role.  In these cases, EPA is tasked with assisting another Federal lead for specified efforts.  Where EPA is designated as having a "mandatory" role, all federal departments and agencies are required to support or implement specified activities and requirements.

Statutory Authorities

Several laws serve as the basis for EPA's various homeland security roles.  While these laws are the pillars of our core environmental programs, they also define some of EPA's responsibilities in protection, prevention, mitigation, response and recovery for homeland security incidents.  After 9/11 additional statues were enacted to supplement our traditional statutory authority with new tasks and responsibilities.

Core Statutes

Post 9/11 Statutes

  • Food Safety Modernization Act
  • Homeland Security Act
  • Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act
  • Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act

Presidential Directives

More than 30 presidential directives addressing homeland security have been issued since 9/11.  Presidential directives establish policy and many have the force of law.  Most of the homeland security related directives are known as Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPD), Presidential Policy Directives (PPD), and Executive Orders (EO).

Most of EPA's homeland security efforts are in response to several major presidential directives:

  • PPD-8 National Preparedness
  • PPD-21 Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience
  • HSPD-9 Defense of U.S. Agriculture and Food
  • HSPD-10 Biodefense for the 21st Century
  • HSPD-22 Domestic Chemical Defense

National Frameworks

The National Planning Frameworks describe how the whole community works together to prevent, protect, mitigate, response to and recover from threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk to our nation.  These frameworks align roles and responsibilities across all levels of government, the private sector and nongovernmental organizations, including defining EPA's responsibilities before, during and after incidents.   

Under the National Response Framework, EPA is the primary agency, along with the U.S.. Coast Guard, for Emergency Support Function #10, Oil and Hazardous Materials Response. The primary agencies are responsible for coordinating and managing the overall federal effort to prevent, detect, identify, contain, decontaminate, cleanup and dispose of oil discharges and releases of hazardous materials.