Natural Resources and Environment:

Environmental Protection Issues Facing the Nation

CED-77-92: Published: Jul 8, 1977. Publicly Released: Jul 8, 1977.

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In fiscal year 1978, 22 federal departments and agencies expect outlays of $11.5 billion for environmental programs. The Environmental Protection Agency accounts for about half of these outlays ($6 billion). Although covering a wide range of activities, federal environmental programs are classified in three broad categories: (1) pollution control and abatement; (2) understanding, describing, and predicting the environment; and (3) environmental protection and enhancement.

The strategy to control air, water, and noise pollution has centered on national uniform technology-based standards. This strategy may not be cost effective, efficient, or equitable, and it is being resisted by industry, states, and municipalities. Attention needs to be given to identifying alternative regulatory strategies and cost/benefit analyses. The environmental protection goals which are considered important include: (1) developing effective environmental protection regulatory strategies; (2) managing federal environmental protection program contracts, loans, and grants effectively; (3) minimizing the environmental protection program's economic impact on the public and private sectors; (4) ensuring effective institutional arrangements to implement environmental laws and to consider tradeoffs; (5) protecting humans and the environment from harmful pesticides and toxic substances; (6) protecting health and the environment from the effects of improper disposal of solid wastes; and (7) ensuring the purity and safety of drinking water in the United States.

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