The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is charged by Congress to protect the Nation`s land, air,and water systems. Under a mandate of national environmental laws, the Agency strives to formulateand implement actions that lead to a compatible balance between human activities and the ability ofnatural systems to support and nurture life. The Agency`s priorities include emphasizing flexibility and innovation, working in partnerships withprivate and government groups, and encouraging sound science and engineering. For example, underthe "Common Sense Initiative" the Agency looks at pollution industry-by-industry, rather than by usingthe pollutant-by-pollutant approach of the past. Everyone concerned with a given industry--frommanufacturers to community organizations--works together to fashion new strategies to emphasizepreventing pollution. EPA works in partnership with state, county, municipal, and tribal governments to carry out itsmission. State and local standards may exceed federal standards, but they cannot be less stringent. EPAworks with states and municipalities so they can carry out federal standards consistently but flexibly.The Agency also makes extensive efforts to involve the public in environmental protection. Some lawsspecifically invite public monitoring; others allow individuals to sue polluters or to notify environmentalagencies of violations.