A look at the creation and work of the US's largest--and most visible--regulatory agency. Mention of the various kinds of air, water, and noise pollution, hazardous waste disposal (or nondisposal), and other environmental concerns that led to the EPA's 1970 formation is followed by legislative background--from the Rivers and Harbors Act (1899) to the Superfund (1980)--and a description of the EPA's rapid growth in the 1970's and its troubles under the Reagan Administration. Law is evenhanded--careful to give credit where it is due, offering only mild praise or blame, and acknowledging the heavy influence of politics on the agency's activities. Although he mentions such industrial accidents and disasters as the Love Canal and the Santa Barbara oil spill, he doesn't dwell on their effects or the methods used to clean up; this is a clear picture of EPA's structure and charge, but not of its actual track record or modus operandi. The most detailed examination yet for younger readers of the EPA's work, although it has been dealt with briefly in the many books on pollution. Small, muddy black-and-white photos; glossary; bibliography of adult books; index.