Abandoned Car in Jamaica Bay 06/1973Believe it or not, the EPA has just been around since 1970. Before that pollution was rampant in much of the United States. When it was created, it was tasked with cleaning up the environment to help human health. (Arthur Tress | National Archives)
President Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 through an executive order that reorganized various different government departments. This reorganization put different government bodies tasked with cleaning up the U.S. under one administration.
Before the creation of the EPA pollution was rampant throughout the U.S., its effects could be seen and felt by people who lived throughout the country. Laws put forth by Congress were not being obeyed.
Illegal dumping was rampant around the U.S., plants were pumping chemicals into the air, and companies were able to dump waste directly into bodies of water. Changes had to be made to the U.S. in order to keep it from becoming an environmental disaster.
When founded, it was established that the EPA would focus on four major goals to be able to carry out its work. The EPA had to be able to establish and enforce environmental protection standards, conduct research and be able to gather data on pollution and its effects, assist others in stopping pollution, and assist in creating new policies to protect the environment.
Even after the EPA was founded it still faced problems. Laws like these had not been established to protect the environment so changes that were made didn't take effect for years.