The Clean Air Act authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to protect public health and the environment. The act requires states to develop State Implementation Plans (SIPs) to ensure compliance with NAAQS. It also regulates the emission of hazardous air pollutants and has provisions for preventing significant deterioration of air quality in areas with cleaner air than the standards require.
The objective of the Clean Water Act is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters. The act sets wastewater standards for industry and water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters. It makes it unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters unless a permit is obtained under its provisions.
RCRA gives EPA the authority to control hazardous waste from the 'cradle-to-grave,' including the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. It also sets forth a framework for the management of non-hazardous solid wastes. The amendments to RCRA enable EPA to address environmental problems that could result from underground tanks storing petroleum and other hazardous substances.
CERCLA authorizes the EPA to identify parties responsible for contamination of sites and compel them to clean up the sites. If responsible parties cannot be found, the EPA is authorized to clean up sites using the Superfund. It also established the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to assist in evaluating health risks associated with exposure to hazardous substances.
The Toxic Substances Control Act addresses the production, importation, use, and disposal of specific chemicals including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos, radon, and lead-based paint. TSCA was amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which mandates EPA to evaluate existing chemicals with clear and enforceable deadlines, to increase transparency and public participation in the chemical review process.
The Endangered Species Act requires federal agencies to ensure that actions they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat of such species. It also provides a program for the conservation of threatened and endangered plants and animals and the habitats in which they are found.
The Federal Land Policy and Management Act establishes a policy for the management, protection, development, and enhancement of the public lands. It mandates that the Bureau of Land Management take into account the natural, scenic, historical, ecological, environmental, air and atmospheric, water resource, and archaeological values of the public lands when developing land use plans.
The Magnuson-Stevens Act aims to prevent overfishing, rebuild overfished stocks, increase long-term economic and social benefits, and ensure a safe and sustainable supply of seafood. It established eight regional fishery management councils which develop fishery management plans to manage fishery resources within federal waters.