• Environmental Law Overview

    Environmental Law OverviewEnvironmental law is a diverse body of cases, statutes, regulations, and treaties that aim to regulate the interaction of mankind with the natural environment. The goal of the United Statesí environmental policy is to protect the environment for future generations while minimizing the interference with commerce or the liberty of the people. For obvious reasons, this goal is very difficult to achieve. Environmental law is a constant balancing act between the interests of commerce and the interests of preservation.

    Environmental law tries to reduce the impacts of human activity on the Earth by attempting to control and reduce pollution as well as protect and manage natural resources. In order to do so, this area of law must depend on many biology concepts such as sustainability, ecology and conservation. Environmental law attorneys need to understand the effects of changing the ecosystem in order to best anticipate the type of laws that will bring about the most benefit.

    This body of law sets down rules for how much pollution can be released into a certain medium (air, soil, ocean, etc.) and how best to clean up pollution should the limit be exceeded. Pollution control laws protect both the environment and human health. Environmental law regulates the handling of hazardous substances and determines the penalties for those who misuse them. It also must lay down procedure for when hazardous substances are released into the environment. Besides hazardous substances, environmental law handles waste disposal, both sewage and trash waste.

    When determining how best to control and manage natural resources, environmental lawyers attempt to strike a balance between the benefits of preservation of the resources and the profits of economic exploitation of the resources. Examples of natural resources include forests, mineral deposits, fossil fuel sources, and wildlife. Lawyers in this field must be able to compromise the interests of the environmentalists with the interests of the businessmen in order to come up with solutions that donít cripple either partyís use. The regulation of land use for these purposes is a major concern in environmental law.

    With the effects of global warming becoming more and more prevalent in the environment, climate and energy law has become integrated with environmental law. Legislation such as the Clean Air act and proposed legislation to cut use of fossil fuels have been set in motion. Unfortunately such legislation is as often blocked as it is passed due to the multitude of interests at stake.

    Because pollution recognizes no borders, environmental policies are usually a matter for many states or countries to collaborate on. If the United States agrees to reduce its air pollution by cutting down on fossil fuel usage and Russia buys up all the extra fossil fuel and increases its air pollution, then nothing has changed. Multiple nations must agree on an environmental policy in order for the results of the plan to be significant. However, getting all the nations to agree on a single plan is often very difficult and it may take years before the policy is able to go into effect. Because of this political collaboration, environmental lawyers must usually be familiar with international law if they desire to be involved in the development of environmental legislation.
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