Environmental law is a comprehensive field of laws and policy that encompass many aspects of the science that provide protection for the environment. Often referred to as environmental law, this is an independent legal field that has developed out of other fields of legal study. An associated but separate category of environmental, legal policies, environmental law focuses on the protection of particular natural resources, including air, water, land, and fisheries. Another related but different area of environmental law is the philosophy of environmental law, which seeks to determine the ethical and social issues surrounding the protection of natural environments.
Involving businesses and industrial corporations
One of the major areas of specialized environmental law is that involving businesses and industrial corporations. These laws cover everything from pollution to genetically modified food. The primary function of these laws is to ensure that business interests are safeguarded while environmental risks are addressed and minimized. What is particularly interesting about these laws is that there is a growing international interest in these issues, which is indicative of how these laws could become more influential and necessary if effective changes are not made to environmental damage caused by businesses and industries around the world.
Involves the environment at the national level
An important area of specialized environmental law involves the environment at the national level. In the US for instance, the Toxic Substances Control Act regulates all uses of toxic chemicals in the home, with the primary function being to protect public safety. The Toxic Substances Control Act was created in 1970 and has been revised periodically, most recently in 2021. As part of this act, businesses and industries are required to document their use of dangerous products and the methods used to control and safely handle them. This documentation is essential in understanding both the effects of toxic substances and the methods that are used to control their use.
Water quality regulations
Regulations regarding water quality and air pollution also fall under the auspices of environmental laws. Water quality regulations provide protections for both aquatic systems and inland bodies of water. These types of regulations were established through the National Parks Act and the Clean Water Act respectively. Additionally, the National Marine Fisheries Service is responsible for providing protection for both the marine habitat and fisheries. As these are two entirely different components of environmental law, it is important to remember that each has its own purpose and role in the environmental agenda.
Regulate natural resources
There are numerous laws that are enforced to monitor and protect the environment. Some of these laws directly regulate natural resources. Others regulate the manufacture, transport, and consumption of these natural resources. The third category of environmental law addresses the creation and loss of natural resources. Because the earth’s resources are finite, these laws regulate how these resources are used and disposed of.
Another important area of regulation is that related to chemical safety. Chemical safety acts regulate the storage, handling, production, transport, and disposal of certain controlled substances. In addition to regulating chemical use, these environmental laws also aim to mitigate the environmental impacts of chemical use. For example, these environmental laws aim to prevent runoff of chemicals into waterways, prevent vulnerability of residential, commercial, and industrial structures to chemicals, and maintain the long-term health and safety of those who work with chemicals.
The EPA is one of the departments that have the primary duty of implementing environmental regulations. It is important to note that although the EPA may have general regulatory authority, each of these federal government agencies has specific jurisdiction over its own area of activities. For example, the EPA regulates the manufacture, transportation, sale, importation, and disposal of fuels and chemicals; while the EPA establishes rules for water quality and endangered species; and the FDA establishes the regulations that govern the food industry. Because not all laws can be enforced by all branches of the federal government, it is important for businesses and individuals to consult an environmental lawyer when these types of laws are perceived to be inadequate or being abused.
To sum up
There are various types of law, all of them equally important. Environmental laws are essential for protecting the natural resources of our nation. While natural resource laws were enacted to help maintain a consistent ecological balance in the ecosystems, these laws also set down obligations for companies, private parties, and government agencies alike to take reasonable measures to protect our environment. For more information about these environmental laws and their applicability in your area, contact an environmental lawyer today.