EPA's Thirtieth Anniversary

By Cynthia Kirk

This is the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency observes its thirtieth anniversary this month. This federal agency was established in Nineteen-Seventy to protect the nation's environment from pollution. It has fought against pollution of the air, water and atmosphere.

After thirty years, the E-P-A can point to progress against a number of environmental threats. For example, it has set new requirements for chemical factories. It has taken action to prevent rain from being polluted by chemicals. And, it has almost completely removed lead from the air.

In addition, half of the nation's worst waste areas have been cleaned up. New homes have been built to resist radon gas, found to be a leading cause of cancer. And the cars of today produce seventy-five percent less pollution than the cars of Nineteen-Seventy.

The E-P-A has dealt with a number of crises. For example, in Nineteen-Eighty-Nine, the ship Exxon Valdez leaked oil into Prince William Sound in the state of Alaska. More than forty-one-million liters of crude oil poured into the water. The Exxon oil company was ordered to pay one-thousand-million dollars. That was the largest criminal environmental damage settlement in history.

During its thirty years, the E-P-A has won praise for its work. But not everyone approves of the agency. Companies forced to make costly changes sometimes oppose the agency. They say E-P-A requirements threaten their profits and the economy in general. Some companies say they have to dismiss workers to pay for required changes.

This week, the E-P-A announced an agreement to end the use of a chemical designed to kill insects in and around American homes. The agreement would end use of diazinon in homes within two years. E-P-A officials say the pesticide is harmful to human health and the environment. In the last few years, the E-P-A has taken action to ban a large group of older and riskier pesticides called organophosphates. Experts say these pesticides are most dangerous to children.

You can learn more about the history of the Environmental Protection Agency Monday on the Special English program THIS IS AMERICA.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by Cynthia Kirk and Jerilyn Watson.

"This Is America" in VOA Special English