Environmental law is complex to define. Some define it as a law that “is made up of treaties, conventions, statutes, regulations, and common law that, very broadly, operate to regulate the interaction of humanity and the rest of the biophysical or natural environment, toward the purpose of reducing the impacts of human activity, both on the natural environment and on humanity itself.” Some divide environmental law into two subjects. These include: 1)Pollution Control and Remediation and 2) Resource Conservation and Management. Pollution control and remediation relates to air, water and soil. Conservation managements focus is on natural resources such as forests, minerals, animals, scenic areas and such. How is environmental law established? It is typically drawn from and influenced by established principals of environmentalism, including ecology, conservation, stewardship, responsibility and sustainability. This makes environmental law broad and difficult to fully and simply define. Within environmental law there is Federal Law, State Law and International Law. Some of these laws overlap. Federal Law includes the National Environmental Policy Act or (NEPA). This law was passed in 1970 along with the Environmental Quality Improvement Act, the National Environmental Education Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These laws were created to protect the environment both from public and private actions. The EPA, for example, monitors and analyzes the environment, conducts research and works with state and local government to devise pollution control policies. Laws that came from the Federal Government that most of us are familiar with include: 1) Endangered Species Act (ESA): Prevents extinction of endangered plants and animals, as well as works to recover these populations by preventing threats to their survival. 2) Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA): A system to prevent pollution. This law ensures that waste is properly disposed of, and thus not dumped into the environment. 3) Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA): Also known as the “superfund” this statute is aimed at cleaning up already polluted areas. This statute assigns liability to almost anyone associated with the improper disposal of hazardous waste, and is designed to provide funding for clean up. 4) Clean Air Act (CAA): The CAA is designed to protect air quality by regulating stationary and mobile sources of pollution. 5) Clean Water Act (CWA): The CWA protects water by preventing discharge of pollutants into navigable waters from point sources. 6) Common Law Protections: Common law protections allow a land-owner who’s land is being polluted to sue the polluter. A landowner may sue under a theory of trespass (a physical invasion of the property) or nuisance (an interference with the landowner’s enjoyment of his property. State laws look at the same concerns federal laws do and vary state to state. International law examines the fact that pollution has no boundaries. There are many international agreements that protect everything from the sky to the ocean. Environmental law is complex to define and is always changing based upon new science and agreed upon discoveries. Steven Medvin is the Executive Director of SMP Advance Funding, LLC, which provides lawsuit funding to individuals who need a lawsuit loan for pending lawsuits. For more information please visit: https://www.smpadvance.com
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