The EPA has always had enemies. Vigorously denouncing EPA's activities as “overzealous,” “job killing,” or a “regulatory train wreck” has become commonplace on the campaign trail and from special interest groups covered by the agency's reach. Perhaps this is to be expected, since EPA's regulations influence a remarkably wide range of activities throughout the country. The agency, though, has been subject to far more than just harsh rhetoric.

Over the past three decades, there have been concerted efforts in Congress to restrain the EPA both by legislation and, less directly, by reducing its resources. Crippling amendments have largely failed but efforts to restrict budgets and personnel have been far more successful. Consider, for example, a description of Congress' most recent EPA budget by the Center for Effective Government: “In a continuing effort to dismantle the ability of the [EPA] to protect public health and the environment, Congress is poised to adopt a fiscal year 2015 budget that would reduce the agency's funding for the fifth year in a row. The $60 million cut in EPA's budget, which builds on previous reductions, will bring the agency's staffing to its lowest level since 1989. These funding cuts are not surprising, given that anti-regulatory forces in Congress have made clear their intent to use the budget process to block EPA's work."