Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1970 transferred various functions relating to the atmosphere and oceans to the Secretary of Commerce and established a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the Department of Commerce. This landmark initiative paved the way for the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency in December 1970. The agency is commanded with protecting human health and the environment, and implements measures geared toward protecting and conserving the environment and natural resources. The EPA began as a single, independent agency built from a number of smaller agencies and has grown into one of the largest and most influential in the U.S. government.
The President’s July 1970 message to Congress outlined that Reorganization Plan 4 would be in the best interest of the American people and would result in more efficient operations of the government. The President stated that prior to the adoption of Reorganization Plan 4, the U.S. government was not adequately equipped to combat harmful pollutants infesting American air, water, and land.

The plan was put into effect on October 3, 1970, and had been fully carried out by October 6.