California Environmental Protection Agency – How Does it Help Me?

Posted on April 8, 2013 in Blog

The California EPA helps protect the public and preserve the environment


Like the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) exists to safeguard human health and protect and preserve the natural environment. California has its own state-level EPA in part because of the unique environmental concerns of the state, such as the need to curb emissions more dramatically than in other parts of the country, in order to prevent smog from choking cities like Los Angeles. Cal/EPA also exists to enable the state to set more stringent environmental protection requirements than are required in the rest of the country, in accord with the generally more “green” attitude of California residents.

Here are the main activities of Cal/EPA and how they help you.

Protecting Air, Soil, and Water

Cal/EPA helps protect the natural resources of California, including resources like air, soil, and water that have an impact on human health. Cal/EPA maintains lists of hazardous materials like mercury, lead, asbestos, certain pesticides, etc., and conducts research to create guidelines regarding safe concentrations of these materials. Using these guidelines, environmental assessors can test air, soil, and water to ensure that they do not pose any hazards to human health.

Enforcing Site Cleanup Requirements

If hazardous materials are found at a residential, commercial, or industrial site, Cal/EPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control provides resources that will help owners perform hazardous waste remediation to clean up the site and return it to a condition that meets the safety requirements set by Cal/EPA. The agency’s enforcement arm ensures that the state’s natural resources and citizens are not put at risk due to industrial waste.

Running Recycling and Waste Disposal Programs

CalRecycle, the department of Cal/EPA charged with reducing and managing waste, sets high standards for waste reduction and recycling compliance, and uses the latest science and technology to achieve them. Their current goal is to keep 75 percent of solid waste of out of landfills by 2020. The benefit to you is a more pristine state with lower levels of the problems that can come from landfills, such as groundwater contamination and greenhouse gas emissions. Another one of Cal/EPA’s accomplishments in the waste reduction arena was the creation of a no-discharge zone in the state’s coastal waters, to keep sewage from harming sea life and spoiling California’s beaches.

Responding to Climate Change

Through the efforts of Cal/EPA, California has been leading the nation in the adoption of standards designed to mitigate or forestall climate change. For example, in 2006, California became the first state to put a cap on industrial greenhouse gas emissions. Cal/EPA has also spearheaded efforts to reduce vehicle emissions by providing rebates for zero-emission vehicles. The agency continues to provide grants and conduct research in an effort to learn more about climate change and its potential impacts on the state and the world.

While the many interconnected departments and activities of Cal/EPA are impossible to describe fully here, it’s clear that the agency is succeeding in its goal of making the state safer and cleaner.