The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act – This law gives EPA authority to control hazardous waste from the "cradle-to-grave." This includes the generation, transportation, treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous waste. The act also created a framework for the management of non-hazardous solid wastes. The 1984 amendments to the act enabled EPA to address environmental problems that could result from underground tanks storing petroleum and other hazardous substances.
The Clean Water Act – This law establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters. Under the Clean Water Act, EPA has implemented programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry and water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters.
The Superfund – This law was enacted in 1980 and created a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries and provided broad federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment. More than $1.6 billion was collected and put into a trust fund for cleaning up abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. Most of the funding came from a tax on the petroleum and chemical industries, which paid for about 60 percent of all sites, even though they were responsible for less than 10 percent of the hazardous substances. The tax was suspended in 1995.
The Toxic Release Inventory – This a publicly available database that contains information on toxic chemical releases and other waste management activities submitted by regulated facilities. The inventory was created in 1986 as part of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.
Toxic Substances Control Act – This law addresses the testing of chemicals prior to their use in commerce. Recently groups have called on Congress for a dramatic overhaul. Proposed changes include giving EPA the ability to make decisions on what materials can and cannot be used in manufacturing without requiring scientific justification for those decisions.
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