Environmental Law & Policy

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Communities of all sizes, from townships to the national government, establish laws that govern how individuals acting within the community are to conduct themselves. The environment is arguably one of the newest considerations to be decided by and incorporated into the body of the law. The body of law relevant to the environment includes full dedicated statutes, smaller pieces of larger legislation, international treaty agreements, and the immense body of regulatory law, which is promulgated by federal, state, and local agencies. In the 21st Century, the environment has also become a consideration in all types of laws from building codes, customs and shipping laws, finance law, and even space law. This section examines the law (both current laws and the evolving process of legislation), the agencies that administer and develop the law, and the policies that influence developing and current law.

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Toxic Substances Control Act, United States The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA, 15 U.S.C. 2601 et seq.) authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to screen existing and new chemicals used in... More »

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America's Climate Choices A report released May 12, 2011, from the National Research Council reiterates the pressing need for substantial action to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare... More »

Environmental Lessons from China This Commentary, written byJustin V. Remais and Junfeng Zhang*, appeared first in Environmental Health Perspectives—the peer-reviewed, open access journal of the... More »

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Actions to Reduce the Health Impacts of Air... This Review article, written by Luisa V. Giles, Prabjit Barn, Nino Künzli, Isabelle Romieu, Murray A. Mittleman, Stephan van Eeden, Ryan Allen, Chris Carlsten, Dave Stieb,... More »

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Environmental Assessment (Environmental Law & Policy) The International Association for Impact Assessment has defined environmental assessment (or environmental impact assessment) as “. . . the process of identifying the... More »

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National Ocean Policy Action Plan National Ocean Policy Action Plan draft requests public comments on actions Federal agencies will take to improve the health of oceans, coasts, and the Great Lakes.... More »

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Environmental Services Markets in Agriculture Environmental goods and services are the benefits society obtains from the environment and ecosystems, both natural and managed, such as water filtration, flood control,... More »

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Comment on NOAA Scientific Integrity Scientific integrity is at the core of producing and using good science. By being open and honest about our science, we build understanding... More »

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Establishment of the U.S. EPA Introduction Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1970 was part of a major reorganization of the federal government of the United States which was carried out under... More »

Colorado Plateau shrublands The Colorado Plateau shrublands is epitomized by the Grand Canyon, an area that has been called the "land of color and canyons." The Plateau can be thought of as an elevated, northward-tilted saucer. It is characterized by its high elevation and arid to semi-arid climate. The Colorado Plateau has developed extensive topographic relief through the erosive action of high-gradient, swift-flowing rivers that have downcut and incised the plateau. Approximately 90 percent of the plateau is drained by the Colorado River and its tributaries, notably the lower catchmentCatchment is the entire area of a hydrological drainage basin. of the Green River, the San Juan River and Animas River. This ecoregion is classified within the Deserts and Xeric Shrublands biome, and is codified as WWF Ecoregion... More »

Environmental justice (Environmental Law & Policy) The concept of environmental justice has surfaced and taken shape over the last thirty years. The first time environmental justice hit the radar screen was in 1976 at a conference entitled: “Working for Environmental and Economic Justice and Jobs" sponsored by the United Automobile Workers of America (UAW) and several other organizations. This conference was held at the Walter May Reuther Family Education Center located at Black Lake near Onaway, Michigan. Over the years, people of color and low-income groups, through struggle to protect their communities from environmental insults, have brought meaning to the concept of environmental justice. Although Love Canal, New York was not the first or the worst of contaminated sites, the struggle that took place there did raise the nation’s consciousness of health impacts of chemical and industrial waste... More »

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Subsidies and market interventions Government interventions encompass a wide range of regulatory, fiscal, tax, indemnification, and legal actions that modify the rights and responsibilities of various parties in society. Interventions can increase or decrease costs to particular groups, effectively acting either as a subsidy or as a tax. Some of these policies increase societal welfare, while others subsidize powerful groups in society, sometimes making societal imbalances worse. This article provides a general overview of many types of subsidy policies, and describes how to calculate net subsidies to a particular sector. Subsidies represent government policies that benefit particular sectors of the economy. Government subsidies are common in most countries and benefit many industries. When these subsidies reduce the prices of natural resources or natural resource-intensive products, they... More »

Agriculture and Climate Change The agriculture sector is a source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which many scientists agree are contributing to observed climate change. Agriculture is also a “sink” for sequestering carbon, which might offset GHG emissions by capturing and storing carbon in agricultural soils. The two key types of GHG emissions associated with agricultural activities are methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Agricultural sources of CH4 emissions mostly occur as part of the natural digestive process of animals and manure management at livestock operations; sources of N2O emissions are associated with soil management and fertilizer use on croplands. This article describes these emissions on a carbon-equivalent basis to illustrate agriculture’s contribution to total national GHG emissions and to contrast emissions against estimates of sequestered carbon. Emissions from... More »

Agriculture and Greenhouse Gases In both industrialized and developing nations, agricultural production of greenhouse gases (GHG) is a significant component of worldwide GHG emissions. There are major contributions to methane production from livestock grazing and rice farming, as well as incomplete combustion of petroleum products in mechanized agricultural equipment. In developing countries agricultural production of greenhouse gases is a much higher percentage of total GHG emissions than for developed countries. For example, rice farming in China and Southeast Asia and livestock grazing in several South American countries contributes proportionately more agricultural GHG than corresponding farming activity in most Western countries. Elimination of overgrazing practises and reduction of dependence of rice farming provide significant opportunities for reducing GHG emissions. There are also large contributions to... More »