There are many instances however, including several ongoing issues, that suggest the EPA serves certain political, economic, and even corporate interests receive disproportionate attention and perhaps concessions form the EPA (Peterson 2009; UCS 2009). In general, though, the EPA is concerned with large-scale environmental public health concerns for all (EPA 2009).
The EPA's structure is relatively simple, especially compared with many other governmental agencies. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has ten regional offices throughout the United States (EPA 2009). In addition, the EPA has over a dozen independent laboratories used to analyze environmental pollutants and their spread and effect, providing many sources of ultimately highly centralized information (EPA 2009). The internal organization of the EPA is slightly more complex, with several administrative, scientific, and practical offices working as discrete units within the cohesive whole of the federal EPA (EPA 2009). Each of these separate offices and departments work under the auspices of the Office of the Administrator, which sets policy and coordinates the various disparate activities of the individual sections of the EPA (EPA 209). Other important offices include the Off ice of Air and Radiation, the Office of Environmental Information, the Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances, and of course the essential Chief Financial Officer and their staff (EPA 2009).
Adequate funding of the EPA is essential to its effective performance of its duties. Without enough money to carry out proper and extensive environmental testing, there is very little that the EPA can do to determine proper minimum safety standards, let alone detect, correct, and punish violations of established guidelines. This is a possible explanation for the apparent discrepancies in the EPA's carrying out of its stated duties -- funding for the EPA comes solely form the federal budget, incorporated into the rest of the budget requests for the Executive Branch of the federal government and sent to Congress annually for approval (EPA 2009). This can make planning difficult, as the budget can change drastically from year to year, and also explains the politicization of the EPA's actions as many of its enforcement abilities would severely limit the activities of industries with heavy lobbying campaigns at work in Congress.
The Environmental Protection Agency's independence as an organizational unit and its dependence on Congressional approval for its budget creates a unique and not necessarily optimum system of regulatory control. The EPA has, ostensibly, a large amount of latitude in determining what constitutes an environmental hazard to public health and imposing penalties on the creators of such hazards; no other governmental office has oversight on the agency, and its powers are derived directly from Congressional legislation (EPA 2009). The fact that its funding is also provided solely at the discretion of Congress, however, gives those Representatives and Senators on the budget committee a great deal of indirect regulatory power over the EPA, determining both how much money the agency will receive from year to year and in many cases specific allocations of these funds to or away from various proposed actions and areas of interest (EPA 2009). Regulation of the EPA, then, occurs only through the purse strings, which suggests that economic factors will be forefront in the minds of the decision makers. The largely unprincipled systems of politics and economics provides the only current regulation of the EPA's activities, which is dangerous not so much for what it allows but for what it doesn't
Public health must be considered the primary concern of any society or government. It was with this in mind that the Environmental Protection Agency and other health organizations were formed, but its ability to effectively carry out its mission has been hampered by the regulatory effects of the economic realities of governmental agencies. The EPA cannot effectively do its job of maintaining public health while politics still control its actions.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (2009). Official Website. Accessed 20 August 2009. http://www.epa.gov/
Health and Human Services (HHS) (2009). "EPA announces public health emergency in Libby, Montana." Accessed 20 August 2009. http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2009pres/06/20090617b.html
Peterson, J. (2009). "EPA public health ruling would spring lawsuits on agriculture." Billings gazette. Accessed 20 August 2009. http://www.billingsgazette.com/news/opinion/guest/article_9e452c90-9d1c-5660-8543-bf5d3e9ef316.html
Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) (2009). "EPA air pollution decision threatens public health." Accessed 20 August 2009. http://www.ucsusa.org/scientific_integrity/abuses_of_science/epa-air-pollution-decision.html