Creation of a Department of Environmental Protection

T-RCED-89-52: Published: Jun 21, 1989. Publicly Released: Jun 21, 1989.

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GAO discussed the creation of a Department of Environmental Protection. GAO found that: (1) making the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a cabinet-level agency would not change the role or the nature of environmental policy within the federal government or alter the agency's mission or responsibilities; (2) elevating EPA would better ensure that the head of the agency was equal with his counterparts within the federal government and the international community and would have more access to the President on environmental matters; (3) EPA expenditures rose from $384 million to about $5 billion, its total federal outlays have doubled since 1970, and environmental cleanup has cost the nation over $700 billion thus far; (4) U.S. participation in international agreements has integrated environmental policies into its trade and foreign policies; (5) EPA interacts regularly with other departments, since it is responsible for identifying and representing environmental interest before the rest of the government; (6) because some federal agencies do not always provide the support needed to further environmental policy goals, it is important to have a vehicle for environmental cooperation at the federal agency level; and (7) EPA compared favorably with the criteria used in evaluating other proposals for agency elevation, including improving visibility to achieve a broad national goal, facilitating achievement of broad cross-cutting national policy goals, and improving agency oversight and accountability.

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