The Environmental Protection Agency is a entity of the executive branch whose charter was approved by the United States congress to make environmental policy as well as enforce the environmental laws.
Their main goal is to enforce environmental laws and regulation. They are also responsible for environmental assessments of commercial practices within the United States, its waters, and on the high seas with ships that bear the American flag.
The EPA's policy making powers are limited by Congress' inherent authority to make federal laws. Their policy making powers are limited to an advisory capacity. The EPA's advice is not taken lightly by many members of the United States Congress. This is primarily because many scientists are employed by the federal agency. Many Congress members do not have the intellectual background to make informed laws pertaining to the environment. Therefore, much credence is given to their word.
Conversely, large corporations have influence over different members of the legislative branch. The making of federal environmental laws is a matter of politics. What will be discussed aside from this background introduction to federal environmental laws pertains to those federal regulations that already exist.
Federal regulations governing the agricultural sector concern the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers that may unreasonably pollute the ground or water. Agriculture is necessary to produce the nation's food supply. It is of national interest for the agricultural sector to exist. Pollution is considered inevitable to most industries.
Therefore, the EPA conducts environmental assessments to test for the extent of pollution. If the company's pollution levels exceed a certain amount, the agribusiness entity is fined or held responsible for adjusting their commercial practices to act as better stewards of the Earth.
Federal regulations governing the business practices of heavy industry primarily focus on air pollution. Smokes stacks are required to have filters and other equipment to reduce the release of noxious and toxic chemicals.
There are even federal environmental laws that govern the energy and manufacturing sectors. For example, cars used to run on leaded gas. Lead was an additive in gasoline that was believed to allow motors to burn fuel more efficiently, preventing engine misfires. Lead fuel worked; however, the heavy metal presented an unreasonable public health risk.
Cars no longer needed lead in their fuel due to the invention of the catalytic converter that reduced car pollution. Leaded fuel was phased out and it was eventually banned as a result of several environmental laws that were passed in the 1970s. The Environmental Protection Agency uses the environmental assessment to advise Congress on environmental laws.