America’s Environmental Milestones

Home & Family, Living Green
on November 6, 2011

Since its creation in 1970, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has seen several environmental milestones. Today, the EPA continues its mission "to protect human health by safeguarding the air we breathe, water we drink and land on which we live." These are just a few of the EPA's accomplishments:

EPA official! (Dec. 2, 1970). The governmental agency is officially established. The first Earth Day had already been held on April 22, 1970, and was one of the catalysts for the EPA's formation.

Clean Air Act (Dec. 31, 1970). Authorized by Congress, the Clean Air Act of 1970 allows the EPA to set national standards for air quality, including auto emissions. The Clean Air Act is credited with preventing more than 200,000 premature deaths due to air pollution.

Clean Water Act (Oct. 18, 1972). The Clean Water Act regulates standards for surface waters and provides the structure for the regulation of pollutant discharge into U.S. waters, according to the EPA. The Ocean Dumping Act followed on Oct. 23 of the same year.

Safe Drinking Water Act (Dec. 16, 1974). EPA begins regulation of public drinking water.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (Sept. 30, 1976). EPA begins regulating and controlling the various aspects of hazardous waste materials.

Bye-bye chlorofluorocarbons! (Oct. 15, 1978). The phasing out of fluorocarbon gases found in aerosols such as hair spray and household cleaners begins. These gases were found to be destroying the ozone layer.

Chesapeake Bay Cleanup (Dec. 9, 1983). A cooperative effort is launced to clean up an environmental disaster area suffering from major pollution issues.

Radon Program (Oct. 5, 1988). The EPA creates a citizen education program for homeowners to test for radon. Radon has been determined to be a cause of lung cancer.

Energy Star Program (June 17, 1992). In a joint effort with the Department of Energy, the EPA begins program focused on energy-efficient products such as appliances and lighting. The U.S. program inspires similar programs in several other countries, including Australia, Canada and Japan.

Brownfields Program (June 30, 1994). Since this program's inception, the EPA has cleaned up more than 450 contaminated and abandoned sites. In addition, it has generated about 61,000 jobs.

Leaded gas gone! (Jan. 29, 1996). It was a 25-year project, but the EPA completes its mission to eliminate lead from gasoline.

WaterSense Program (June 12, 2006). This program aims to help citizens conserve water in practical ways, saving money and protecting the environment. Since its beginning, it has saved 46 billion gallons of water.

Wind energy (Sept. 1, 2006). The EPA becomes the first federal agency to sign a green power contract using 100 percent wind energy for electricity use.

Nobel Peace Prize (Oct. 12, 2007). The prestigious award is shared between 30 EPA employees, recognized for their involvement on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Fuel efficiency standards for trucks and buses (Oct. 25, 2010). The first program of its kind in the country, this effort aims to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from trucks and buses.