Reorganization Plans To Establish the Environmental Protection Agency

President Nixon's message, which drew substantially on the Ash Council memo from April 29, 1970, noted that the government's approach to the environment had grown up piecemeal over the years. It was necessary to reorganize the federal government to effectively ensure environmental protection. To that end, the federal government needed an agency that could take a coordinated approach to pollution. That would mean abandoning anti-pollution approaches that were designed primarily along lines of media (air, water, land) or types of pollutants. The proposed new agency, the EPA, could do this, provided it had sufficient support for research, monitoring, standard-setting, enforcement and aid to states.

In proposing this new agency, the president said he was "making an exception to one of my own principles: "new independent agencies normally should not be created." There was a compelling reason for doing this for the EPA, according to Nixon however, because putting these functions in a department with other goals could unduly influence the anti-pollution functions. It would require that department to constantly make decisions affecting other departments. Nixon also noted the difference between the EPA and the Council on Environmental Quality: "the Council focuses on what our broad policies in the environmental field should be; the EPA would focus on setting and enforcing pollution control standards."

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American Presidency Project, University of California Santa Barbara


Richard Nixon, "Special Message to the Congress About Reorganization Plans To Establish the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration," July 9, 1970