The United States environmental laws are regulations that seek to safeguard human health as well as enhance the natural environment. In the contemporary globe, various activities have led to environmental degradation causing adverse effects on human health. Some examples of environmental degradation include climate change, water, and air pollution. As such, the U.S. Environmental law is meant to alleviate such issues that cause harm to the environment. In the process, they ensure safety for humans and the environs. The policies include management of pollutants and conservation as well as the allocation of the natural resources. It is inclusive of energy, land use, real estate, and agriculture. The policies have also expanded to cover international trade, climate change, environmental justice, and international environmental governance. Practicing environmental laws demands a vast knowledge of administrative law, some parts of tort, legislation, property, land use, and constitutional laws. The Congress strives to provide laws such as pollution control and natural resource law to safeguard the same. Therefore, this paper will dwell on the U.S. environmental law and all aspects surrounding the regulations.
The heightened levels of climate change concerns have also expanded the field as many groups are indulging in the same. Institutions dealing with environment conservation fall under the following categories: the government, nonprofit organizations (NGOs), and private, public interest companies. The organizations strive to safeguard the environment and promote human health. The government institutes different dockets that deal with environmental conservation. The executive branch includes the Department of Justice, which is responsible for the implementation of the federal laws. Under the government, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the agency responsible for enacting the countrywide environment laws such as the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Clean Water Act. EPA strives to uphold the country’s standards regarding the environment. The Department of Energy and that of Interior (DOI) also work to conserve the federal lands such as national parks and natural resources. The energy department champions utilization of clean and sustainable energy sources (Bearden, 2013).
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is another agency that monitors and enlightens the public on the weather, atmosphere, and ocean conditions. The agency strives to ensure people are prepared for the impacts of natural disasters and climate change. The agency is staffed by scientists who aim to prepare the communities for the consequences of these disasters (Koteen, 2013). A significant amount of environmental programs is carried out by nonprofit organizations. They indulge in a wide array of activities to sensitize the community about the vitality of environment conservation. Environment protection is also championed by private, public interest law firms (PPILF).
Discussion: US Environmental Laws
As elucidated above, environmental law is primarily divided into pollution control and natural resources. These two aspects are the most prominent when it comes to impacting on the environment. The rules include Air quality policies, water, and waste management. The natural resources laws entail species protection, fisheries, forestry, and mining. In general, some of the Acts include Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act (CWA), Drinking Water Act (SDWA), Solid Waste Disposal Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
Clean Air Act (CAA)
According to the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets limits regarding air quality to prevent corporations from producing hazardous materials.
The Clean Air Act collated as 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq., strive to safeguard the environment and human health from effluents that pollute the outdoor or ambient air. The EPA constructs a minimum level of air quality and mandates the states to abide by the same. Since the standards are federally implemented, they apply equally to the states. Regions that do not meet the policies, denoted to as “nonattainment areas,” must institute specified air contamination control measures. Additionally, the CAA defines the federal standards required by mobile resources of air pollution as well as their fuels. It also establishes the different sources of the 187 harmful air pollutants. The act also extends towards protection against emissions caused by acid rain. It institutes a complete permit structure for the leading air pollution sources. Apart from that, the Act dwells on pollution prevention, particularly in regions with clean air. It protects the stratospheric ozone layer (Bearden, 2013).
Clean Water Act
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act also referred to as the Clean Water Act is the main policy controlling of the water surfaces. It was initially instituted in 1948 and revised in 1972 to meet the current aspects. The Act is primarily offered by the local and state governments including funds to address water pollution issues and research. In most cases, the issues surrounding water pollution are perceived to be local and state; thus the federal government does not set guidelines, limits, goals, or objectives. During its inception, the federal government was restricted to issues relating to interstate waters. However, under this Act, the federal jurisdictions are much broader, especially concerning the standards and waste limitations (Hilton, 2015).
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides standards that mandate safe emissions. They usually target categories like steel and iron manufacturing, petroleum and refining, and organic chemical manufacturing among others. This act is an embodiment of the federal-state partnership; hence, some duties are given to the states. In other words, the federal government designs and sets the pollution standards and lets the state to implement and enforce them in their respective regions. Some of the delegated duties include the authority to discharge and enforce permits. Additionally, the states have the responsibility to institute water quality policies (Vicario, 2015).
Ocean Dumping Act
In order to protect the water bodies, the Ocean Dumping Act was instituted. It serves two key purposes: regulation of the international ocean discharges, and to approve associated research. According to Title I of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, permits are vital in aiding ocean dumping; thus limiting these actions. Title II dwells on research programs. The Act has provisions for monitoring the water quality across the coastal regions, marine research plans, and formation of marine sanctuaries. Due to the nature of ocean pollution, it is necessary to regulate the same in an international perspective. In other words, the regulations need to be universal for all countries sharing a water body. This is because once a hazardous effluent is released into the water bodies, it is bound to affect the entire region. It is for this reason that a series of conventions and treaties involving marine pollution have been enacted. The conventions are also comprehensive to capture the international waters (Copeland, 2010).
Safe Drinking Water Act
Drinking water ought to be safe to alleviate detrimental issues like diseases. As such, the federal law through the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), Title XIV safeguards the public water supplies from pollution. The Act was first instituted in 1974 with subsequent adjustments done to enhance them. The act is governed via structures that institute policies as well as treatment needs for the public water supplies, finance infrastructure programs, protect drinking water sources and control of the underground addition of wastes. States play a significant role in ensuring the drinking water projects are effective. The state-managed Public Water Supply Supervision (PWSS) plan is still the fundamental structure for controlling the country’s water systems (Koteen, 2013).
EPA’s promulgation of the chief drinking water policies for pollutants is a fundamental element of the SDWA. In section 1412 of the Act, EPA is instructed how to choose a contaminant. These policies are applicable in around 168,000 publicly and privately owned water structures that channel piped water to the people for consumption (Bearden, 2013).
Solid Waste Disposal Act/Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
It was instituted in 1976 and strives to regulate hazardous waste control. Though it amended the previous law instituted in 1965, the changes were quite significant to the extent that the name was changed. This act describes hazardous and solid waste, allows the EPA to institute policies for facilities as well as control the hazardous waste. Additionally, they offer permits for waste treatment, storage as well as disposal. It also gives the EPA modalities for disposal facilities that are acceptable to the municipal solid waste (Vicario, 2015).
The Environmental laws seek to protect the environment from harmful acts that tend to degrade it. In the United States, the laws are categorized depending on the aspects covered. The two commonest categories entail the Pollution control and Natural resources law. As elucidated above, protection of the environment is a comprehensive practice that includes both the government, nonprofit organizations, as well as private, public interest companies. Even though many agencies are involved in making the environment safe, the U.S. government strives to institute laws that govern the same. The commonest U.S. environmental laws include Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act, Ocean Dumping Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Solid Waste Disposal Act/Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. All these laws strive to promote a healthy and safe environment for humans and other environs.