August/September Business View Magazine

168 169 THE UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY core work is to develop and enforce regulations that set standards for pollution. The EPA mission has remained constant over time – to protect human health and the environment –but the work of the agency has broadened because of im- proved understanding of environmental science. For example, EPA has tried to shift from a frame- work of pollution control (dealing with pollution after it is created) to one of pollution prevention. EPA’s mandate is defined in the different laws it administers, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Comprehen- sive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, Toxics Substances Control Act, and other statutes.” BVM: What types of businesses/organizations does the EPA work with to facilitate its mandate? Benforado: “Environmental programs at the federal and state level issue permits that limit the amount of pollution that can be released from a facility, and conduct inspections to ensure compliance. EPA provides compliance assistance to small businesses to help facilities with similar operations comply with requirements. “In addition to regulatory programs, EPA has voluntary partnership programs that help busi- nesses and organizations improve environmental performance and prevent pollution. These pro- grams encourage improved environmental per- formance beyond the minimum requirements and improve the overall ‘environmental footprint’ of a facility or organization. EPA’s Energy Star program, for example, helps improve energy efficiency though partnerships with home builders, appli- ance manufacturers, retail stores, lighting compa- nies, and many other businesses. Additionally, EPA is one of 11 federal agencies that have a Small Business Innovation Research program that funds contracts with small businesses. EPA issues annu- al solicitations for Phase I and Phase II research proposals from science and technology-based firms.” BVM: What is the size of the EPAs staff? What do they do? What are their main priorities? Are there any major changes planned for the near or long-term future? Benforado: “EPA has about 14,000 employees spread across the country. Employees work on a range of topics from policy and regulation to environmental research. In laboratories across the country, scientists and engineers identify and develop solutions to environmental problems. Jobs at EPA are quite varied–with many engi- neers, scientists, and environmental protection specialists, as well as staff with expertise in law, communication, grants, finance, and information technology. EPA’s work is driven by environmental statutes that define EPA programs in air, water, land, and chemicals – including issuing pollution standards, permitting, enforcement, research, and public involvement. There are specific priorities that include meeting air quality standards, en- suring safety of chemicals in the marketplace, and taking faster action on priority contaminated sites. The EPA has also emphasized the impor- tance of working collaboratively with states, local governments, and tribes to implement laws that protect human health and the environment.”