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It has been said that America is like a gigantic boiler in that once the fire is lighted, there are no limits to the power it can generate. Environmentally, the fire has been lit.

With a mandate from the President and an aroused public concerning the environment, we are experiencing a new American Revolution, a revolution in our way of life. The era which began with the industrial revolution is over and things will never be quite the same again. We are moving slowly, perhaps even grudgingly at times, but inexorably into an age when social, spiritual and aesthetic values will be prized more than production and consumption. We have reached a point where we must balance civilization and nature through our technology.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, formed by Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1970, was a major commitment to this new ethic. It exists and acts in the public's name to ensure that due regard is given to the environmental consequences of actions by public and private institutions.

In a large measure, this is a regulatory role, one that encompasses basic, applied, and effects research; setting and enforcing standards; monitoring; and making delicate risks—benefit decisions aimed at creating the kind of world the public desires.

The Agency was not created to harass industry or to act as a shield behind which man could wreak havoc on nature. The greatest disservice the Environmental Protection Agency could do to American industry is to be a poor regulator. The environment would suffer, public trust would diminish and instead of free enterprise, environmental anarchy would result.

It was once sufficient that the regulatory process produce wise and well-founded courses of action. The public, largely indifferent to regulatory activities, accepted agency actions as being for the "public convenience and necessity." Credibility gaps and cynicism make it essential not only that today's decisions be wise and well-founded but that the public know this to be true. Certitude, not faith, is de rigueur.

In order to participate intelligently in regulatory proceedings, the citizen should have access to the information available to the agency. EPA's policy is to make the fullest possible disclosure of information, without unjustifiable expense or delay, to any interested party. With this in mind, the EPA Compilation of Legal Authority was produced not only for internal operations of EPA, but as a service to the public, as we strive together to lead the way, through the law, to preserving the earth as a place both habitable by and hospitable to man.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1970 transferred 15 governmental units with their functions and legal authority to create the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Since only the major laws were cited in the Plan, the Administrator, William D. Ruckelshaus, requested that a compilation of EPA legal authority be researched and published.

The publication has the primary function of providing a working document for the Agency itself. Secondarily, it will serve as a research tool for the public.

A permanent office in the Office of Legislation has been established to keep the publication updated by supplements.

It is the hope of EPA that this set will assist in the awesome task of developing a better environment.

Assistant Director for Field Operations
Office of Legislation
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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The idea of producing a compilation of the legal authority of EPA was conceived and commissioned by William D. Ruckelshaus, Administrator of EPA. The production of this compilation involved the cooperation and effort of numerous sources, both within and outside the Agency. The departmental libraries at Justice and Interior were used extensively; therefore we express our appreciation to Marvin P. Hogan, Librarian, Department of Justice; Arley E. Long, Land & Natural Resources Division Librarian, Department of Justice; Frederic E. Murray, Assistant Director, Library Services, Department of the Interior.

For exceptional assistance and cooperation, my gratitude to: Gary Baise, formerly Assistant to the Administrator, currently, Director, Office of Legislation, who first began with me on this project; A. James Barnes, Assistant to the Administrator; K. Kirke Harper, Jr., Special Assistant for Executive Communications; John Dezzutti, Administrative Assistant, Office of Executive Communications; Roland O. Sorensen, Chief, Printing Management Branch, and Jacqueline Gouge and Thomas Green, Printing Management Staff; Ruth Simpkins, Janis Collier, Wm. Lee Rawls, James G. Chandler, Jeffrey D. Light, Randy Mott, Thomas H. Rawls, and John D. Whittaker, Peter J. McKenna, Linda L. Payne, John M. Himmelberg, and Dana W. Smith, a beautiful staff who gave unlimited effort; and to many others, behind the scenes who rendered varied assistance.

Assistant Director for Field Operations
Office of Legislation
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.



The goal of this text is to create a useful compilation of the legal authority under which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency operates. These documents are for the general use of personnel of the EPA in assisting them in attaining the purposes set out by the President in creating the Agency. This work is not intended and should not be used for legal citations or any use other than as reference of a general nature. The author disclaims all responsibility for liabilities growing out of the use of these materials contrary to their intended purpose. Moreover, it should be noted that portions of the Congressional Record from the 92nd Congress were extracted from the “unofficial” daily version and are subject to subsequent modification.

EPA Legal Compilation consists of the Statutes with their legislative history, Executive Orders, Regulations, Guidelines and Reports. To facilitate the usefulness of this composite, the Legal Compilation is divided into the eight following chapters: A. General

E. Pesticides
B. Air

F. Radiation
C. Water

G. Noise
D. Solid Waste

H. International


The chapter labeled “Water” and color coded blue contains the legal authority of the Agency as it applies to water pollution abatement. It is well to note that any law which is applicable to more than one chapter of the compilation will appear in each of the chapters; however, its legislative history will be cross referenced into the “General” chapter where it is printed in full.

Statutes and Legislative History

For convenience, the Statutes are listed throughout the Compilation by a one-point system, i.e., 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc., and Legislative History begins wherever a letter follows the one-point system.

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