Environmental Law

Environmental law is a very broad and complex compilation of laws and legal issues that consists of statues, treaties, regulations, common law, conventions, and policies enacted to protect the natural environment from the impact of our affects on nature, or from the unnatural perils created by human activities. The policies designed to protect the environment include safeguards and management of ecosystems, terrain, public land, water systems, and air quality from the corruption or contamination by chemical substance, hazardous wastes, and other pollutants. Several environmental laws regulate the amount and kind of impact from human activities. For example, environmental law regulates the amount or level of pollution on a particular system, or by requiring permits or authorization for potentially harmful activities. Other environmental laws are constructed to protect nature by trying to determine or prevent any possible negative impact before the human activities can take place.

Environmental law arose in the 1960s in the major industrial economies. While many countries worldwide have since build up extraordinary sets of environmental laws, their implementation has been deplorable in many cases. Recently, environmental law has become a very serious way of promoting sustainable development. Progressive policy concepts such as the public involvement, preventive measures, quality standards, environmental justice, and the polluter pays principle have encouraged several environmental law reforms in this respect. There has been substantial experimentation done in the quest for a more effective method of environmental control beyond the traditional practice of “command and control” style regulation.

Federal and state governmental agencies control environmental laws. These agencies include the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), who govern a large body of the federal laws and regulations. The US government approved the National Environment Protection Act (NEPA) in 1970 to help defend the environment from public and private actions such as corporate pollution or excessive logging. The creation of the Environmental Quality Improvement Act (EQIA) as well as the National Environmental Education Act and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are other actions taken by the federal government to guarantee protection of the environment, and the quality of our water and air.

Environmental laws also contain provisions that allow for individual actions that can be brought by the public to force private institutions to cleanup any contamination and/or pollution they are responsible for that may have an impacted to the land, air, water, or the environment. These lawsuits are provided for in a number of federal statutes.

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