Frequent Questions

What federal laws does EPA enforce?

At the federal level, nine principal laws regulate the environment. These are:

• Clean Air Act (CAA)
• Clean Water Act (CWA)
• Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)
• Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) (governing hazardous wastes)
• Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) (covering a variety of reporting requirements for storage and releases of hazardous substances)
• Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)
• Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)(governing pesticide manufacture, sale and use)
• Superfund (CERCLA)
• Oil Pollution Act (OPA) (covering oils spills and prevention requirements)

The above laws cover four basic types of environmental regulation:

  • end-of pipe,
  • product regulation,
  • public information requirements, and
  • clean-up

Most laws contain parts of each of these types of environmental regulations, but have one of them as their major thrust.

The Clean Air and Clean Water Act are generally end-of-pipe type laws, governing the amount of substances that can be emitted to the environment; the Safe Drinking Water Act is somewhat similar to these, but its focus is on what is allowed into public drinking water systems as well as protecting the water sources for those systems.

Product and waste regulation laws include RCRA and FIFRA.

EPCRA focuses on requirements for providing information on releases to the environment and the amounts of hazardous substances stored at a facility.

Superfund and OPA focus on responding to and cleaning up hazardous wastes sites or spills of hazardous substances.

Learn more about environmental laws and regulations.

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