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01	U.S. Environmental Protection Agency	10-P-0140
June 8, 2010
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\ Office of Inspector General
At a Glance
Catalyst for Improving the Environment
Why We Did This Review
This report updates our Fiscal
Year 2009 management
challenge on how the U.S.
Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) uses threat and
risk information in
decisionmaking. We
researched the need for a
national environmental policy
to leverage resources for
environmental protection
across government and
stakeholder groups.
Congress passed the National
Environmental Policy Act and
created EPA in 1970 to carry
out national policy. EPA's
success in protecting the
environment depends on the
efforts of other federal
agencies and States. In some
cases, EPA partners with other
entities to accomplish
environmental goals and, in
other cases, stakeholders have
more authority than EPA over
activities that impact
environmental quality.
For further information,
contact our Office of
Congressional, Public Affairs
and Management at
(202) 566-2391.
To view the full report,
click on the following link:
National Environmental Policy and
Quadrennial Review Needed
What We Found
The environmental protection structure created by the National Environmental
Policy Act 40 years ago has not resulted in a comprehensive approach. In
addition, new, complex environmental problems such as global climate change,
regional water scarcity, and long-range transport of pollutants in air or water
require more concerted, coordinated efforts.
EPA shares responsibility for environmental protection with States and 25 federal
agencies, resulting in a fragmented approach to environmental protection. For
example, EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy both issued ENERGY STAR
criteria documents for the same products, which could cause confusion in the
EPA lacks authority over many activities that impact the nation's environment.
For example, housing financed, controlled, underwritten, or owned by four other
federal government entities represents a significant number of homes that could be
built radon resistant. The U.S. Department of Agriculture could use its extensive
field experience with local farming communities to further contribute to EPA's
Chesapeake Bay clean-up efforts.
Past and current Agency efforts, such as the Proposed Environmental Goals for
America with Milestones for 2005 (1995), did not set national policy or clearly
align the environmental protection efforts of all federal and State stakeholders.
The National Strategy for Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security Quadrennial Homeland Security Review are an example of a
nationwide framework to solve a large, complex problem. Australia and Japan
offer international examples of how to incorporate a national policy approach into
environmental protection legislation and activities.
EPA should work with Congress and the Administration to examine ways to
leverage resources expended to various, insular environmental protection efforts.
The Administration should propose to Congress that it create expert panels to
consider formulating a national environmental policy and subsequent quadrennial
review. Congress could also consider passing legislation recommended by these
panels to harmonize various efforts and, where appropriate, to maintain existing
requirements in environmental statutes. These efforts could help address the
Administrator's priority to expand the conversation on environmentalism and
build strong State and tribal partnerships.