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Forty years after its founding, what has the EPA achieved?

Dan Farber, professor of law | December 28, 2010

Forty years ago, President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency by Executive Order.  Here are some of the achievements that EPA lists on its EPA@40 website:

[W]e’ve reduced 60% of the dangerous air pollutants that cause smog, acid rain, lead poisoning and more. clean air innovations like smokestack scrubbers and catalytic converters in automobiles have helped. Today, new cars are 98 percent cleaner than in 1970 in terms of smog-forming pollutants.

Sixty-percent more Americans were served by publicly-owned wastewater treatment facilities from 1968 to 2008.

Preliminary EPA analysis shows that in 2010, Clean Air Act fine particle (soot) and ozone (smog) programs implemented since the 1990 Amendments will have prevented more than 160,000 premature deaths.

Bureaucrats don’t have a good public image, but in the end, it’s the bureaucrats in places like EPA who translate public policy into reality.  At EPA, they’ve managed to do this despite years of budgetary neglect and sniping from the White House or Congress, not to mention talk shows and Fox News.  Hats off to the “faceless bureaucrats” of EPA!

Cross-posted from the environmental law and policy blog Legal Planet, a Berkeley Law-UCLA Law collaboration.