What organization monitors and enforces standards for water and air quality?
The federal agency responsible for monitoring and regulating the air and water is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA was formed in 1970. It was given the mission of protecting the environment to ensure a healthy balance could be maintained between technology and living. To aid the EPA, each state has departments for monitoring the environment.
The Clean Air Act (1970) allows the EPA to establish ambient air quality standards and is one of the major missions of the EPA. The Act grants authority to the EPA to enforce federal regulations and provides methods for encouraging states to enact legislation as well. This is the law that allows states to enforce state emissions testing. The Clean Water Act (1972) is the partner with the CAA giving the EPA latitude to control pollution into American waterways. The Act makes it unlawful to discharge pollutants into waterways without a permit, which the EPA controls.
The EPA enforces the federal laws on environmental quality, but they also are tasked with providing assistance to the cleaning of polluted areas or giving guidance on how to reclaim land. It works closely with other regulatory agencies concerned with the public healthy such as the Center for Disease Control a sub-agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration which is part of the Department of Labor.