Solid Waste Disposal Act

Solid Waste Disposal Act

Date: 1976
Creator: United States. Congress
Description: The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) gives EPA the authority to control hazardous waste from the "cradle-to-grave." This includes the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA also set forth a framework for the management of non-hazardous solid wastes. The 1986 amendments to RCRA enabled EPA to address environmental problems that could result from underground tanks storing petroleum and other hazardous substances. HSWA - the Federal Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments - are the 1984 amendments to RCRA that focused on waste minimization and phasing out land disposal of hazardous waste as well as corrective action for releases. Some of the other mandates of this law include increased enforcement authority for EPA, more stringent hazardous waste management standards, and a comprehensive underground storage tank program.
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The Clean Air Act

The Clean Air Act

Date: February 24, 2004
Creator: United States. Congress. Senate.
Description: The United States Clean Air Act is legislation authorizing the Environmental Protection Agency to control air pollutiants on a national level.
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Atomic Energy Act of 1954 [As Amended Through P.L. 105-394, November 13, 1998]: An Act for the development and control of atomic energy

Atomic Energy Act of 1954 [As Amended Through P.L. 105-394, November 13, 1998]: An Act for the development and control of atomic energy

Date: November 13, 1998
Creator: United States. Congress
Description: The Atomic Energy Act (AEA) established the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to promote the "utilization of atomic energy for peaceful purposes to the maximum extent consistent with the common defense and security and with the health and safety of the public." Since the abolition of the AEC, much of the AEA has been carried out by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy. When EPA was formed, however, the AEC's authority to issue generally applicable environmental radiation standards was transferred to EPA. Other federal and state organizations must follow these standards when developing requirements for their areas of radiation protection.
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Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980

Date: December 31, 2002
Creator: United States. Congress
Description: The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act -- otherwise known as CERCLA or Superfund -- provides a Federal "Superfund" to clean up uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous-waste sites as well as accidents, spills, and other emergency releases of pollutants and contaminants into the environment. Through CERCLA, EPA was given power to seek out those parties responsible for any release and assure their cooperation in the cleanup.
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Pollution Prevention Act of 1990

Pollution Prevention Act of 1990

Date: 1990
Creator: United States. Congress
Description: The Pollution Prevention Act focused industry, government, and public attention on reducing the amount of pollution through cost-effective changes in production, operation, and raw materials use. Opportunities for source reduction are often not realized because of existing regulations, and the industrial resources required for compliance, focus on treatment and disposal. Source reduction is fundamentally different and more desirable than waste management or pollution control. Pollution prevention also includes other practices that increase efficiency in the use of energy, water, or other natural resources, and protect our resource base through conservation. Practices include recycling, source reduction, and sustainable agriculture.
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Toxic Substances Control Act

Toxic Substances Control Act

Date: unknown
Creator: United States. Congress
Description: The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 provides EPA with authority to require reporting, record-keeping and testing requirements, and restrictions relating to chemical substances and/or mixtures. Certain substances are generally excluded from TSCA, including, among others, food, drugs, cosmetics and pesticides. TSCA addresses the production, importation, use, and disposal of specific chemicals including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos, radon and lead-based paint.
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Federal Water Pollution Control Act

Federal Water Pollution Control Act

Date: November 27, 2002
Creator: United States. Congress. House
Description: The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters. The basis of the CWA was enacted in 1948 and was called the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, but the Act was significantly reorganized and expanded in 1972. "Clean Water Act" became the Act's common name with amendments in 1977. Under the CWA, EPA has implemented pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry. We have also set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters. The CWA made it unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained. EPA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls discharges. Point sources are discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches. Individual homes that are connected to a municipal system, use a septic system, or do not have a surface discharge do not need an NPDES permit; however, industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters.
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Public Health Service Act

Public Health Service Act

Date: 1974
Creator: United States. Congress
Description: The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was established to protect the quality of drinking water in the U.S. This law focuses on all waters actually or potentially designed for drinking use, whether from above ground or underground sources. The Act authorizes EPA to establish minimum standards to protect tap water and requires all owners or operators of public water systems to comply with these primary (health-related) standards. The 1996 amendments to SDWA require that EPA consider a detailed risk and cost assessment, and best available peer-reviewed science, when developing these standards. State governments, which can be approved to implement these rules for EPA, also encourage attainment of secondary standards (nuisance-related). Under the Act, EPA also establishes minimum standards for state programs to protect underground sources of drinking water from endangerment by underground injection of fluids.
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Endangered Species Act of 1973

Endangered Species Act of 1973

Date: January 24, 2002
Creator: United States. Congress. House
Description: The Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides a program for the conservation of threatened and endangered plants and animals and the habitats in which they are found. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) of the Department of the Interior maintains a worldwide list which, as of Feb. 20, 2008, included 1574 endangered species (599 are plants) and 351 threatened species (148 are plants). Species include birds, insects, fish, reptiles, mammals, crustaceans, flowers, grasses, and trees. Anyone can petition FWS to include a species on this list. The law requires federal agencies, in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and/or the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service, to ensure that actions they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat of such species. The law also prohibits any action that causes a "taking" of any listed species of endangered fish or wildlife. Likewise, import, export, interstate, and foreign commerce of listed species are all generally prohibited.
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Oil Pollution Act of 1990

Oil Pollution Act of 1990

Date: 1990
Creator: United States. Congress
Description: The Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990 streamlined and strengthened EPA's ability to prevent and respond to catastrophic oil spills. A trust fund financed by a tax on oil is available to clean up spills when the responsible party is incapable or unwilling to do so. The OPA requires oil storage facilities and vessels to submit to the Federal government plans detailing how they will respond to large discharges. EPA has published regulations for above ground storage facilities; the Coast Guard has done so for oil tankers. The OPA also requires the development of Area Contingency Plans to prepare and plan for oil spill response on a regional scale.
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