There are over 100 federal agencies in operation across the United States. Perhaps the most significant agency that is responsible for protecting the environment and enforcing environmental laws is none other than the EPA. The EPA was given increased oversight authority in 2004 by the U.S. Supreme Court. Often, the EPA (a federal agency) hands over a lot of its work to state environmental agencies.
There are two different classifications of agencies. One classification of agency is an executive agency. Executive agencies are somewhat less stable than administrative agencies because of the fact that the administrator is appointed by the U.S. President and can be let go at any time. This makes it harder for them to enforce their regulatory policies. Independent agencies, on the other hand, have a board of commissioners who is lead by the chair. Another difference between an independent and executive agency is that executive agencies make rules for a much broader array of industries than independent agencies do.
Another type of agency is a hybrid agency. Essentially, some agencies can be a mix of an independent and executive agency. The EPA is a good example of this. Even though it was created as an independent agency, it is lead by an administrator.
The Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation (OPEI). Essentially, the OPEI helps with management support. Just a few of the roles assigned to this agency are to “address the special needs of small businesses, local governments, and nonprofit organizations, to identify emerging issues, and to improve economic analysis and tools (pg. 111).
Another important agency is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It is responsible for describing, monitoring, and predicting conditions in the ocean, atmosphere, sun, and space. NOAA also provides a lot of environmental data.
The Agencies of the Department of the Interior
The first agency being discussed is the Bureau of Land Management. It manages over 270 million acres of public land, about half of which is in Alaska. The land that is not for regular recreational use is known as wilderness. Natural resources include timber, oil and gas, wildlife habitats, vegetation, endangered species, and rivers.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is an agency that is responsible for protecting wildlife and the wildlife’s habitat that is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It has had a lot of growth since 1983 and now the system has nearly 500 national wildlife refuges. The USFWS also sets rules for hunters by letting them know when an animal can or cannot be hunted. It also preserves wetlands and natural habitats.
The National Park Service is responsible for forming programs that lead to the conservation of scenery, natural, and historic objects, as well as wildlife in national parks.
The Agencies of the Department of Agriculture
The U.S. Forest Service tries to keep the nation’s forests and grasslands in tip top shape. It is responsible for managing over thirty million acres of wilderness. It has its challenges which are to meet the interests of conservationists and industry. It examines the uses of the forest including farming, grazing, and lumbering.
The Agency of the Department of Labor
OSHA is one of the most important agencies when it comes to workplace safety and health. It is connected
to the NIOSH which does research related to workplace health and safety. Information gathered by NIOS
can be used by both the EPA and OSHA.
Kubasek, N. (2008). Environmental Law. Upper Saddle River: Pearson