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A Legacy of Silent Spring: The Environmental Protection Agency

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At the time of writing of Silent Spring, environmental protection at the federal level of the United States was managed by several different agencies.


President Kennedy instigated a major review of the allegations set down in Silent Spring but public concerns over environmental protection continued through the late 1960s. In 1970, President Nixon established the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a single, independent agency responsible for comprehensive regulation of environmental pollutants, including pesticides.

  • The EPA is led by a Cabinet-rank Administrator who is appointed by the US President and approved by Congress. The Agency has approximately 17,000 employees including engineers, scientists, and lawyers.
  • The EPA carries out environmental assessment, research, and education, and enforces national standards under federal environmental laws, in partnership with state, tribal, and local governments. EPA enforcement powers include fines, sanctions, and other measures.
  • The Agency also works with industries, governments and the public in a variety of voluntary pollution prevention and energy conservation programs.
  • Today, pesticides in the USA are subject to over 100 health, safety and environmental tests.

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Image of US EPAImage of the EPASome critics believe that the EPA has too much authority and can stifle economic development. In contrast, others criticize the EPA for not doing enough to control pollution.