An Introduction to Environmental Law

Photo of a lightbulb with an ecosystem inside

The modernization of our world has led to several significant changes in our environment. While many of the technologies and methods we use to do business or even run our households have proven convenient and necessary, we have seen serious damage to our environment. Poor air quality, unclean water, lack of natural resources, and animal extinction, among other factors, are all signs that we have to do more to care for the environment.

The United States has environmental laws that we should all be aware of if we want to do our part to make the country, and the planet, a better place to live. 

Clean Air Act 

The Clean Air Act was established in 1963 as federal law, and it was designed to monitor national air pollution. The Clean Air Act is one of the first modern environmental regulations in the U.S., and one of the world’s most detailed laws pertaining to air quality. It is administered by the EPA and works in connection with local, tribal, and state governing bodies. 

In 1955, the Air Pollution Control Act was established. It is somewhat of a precursor to the Clean Air Act. The Air Pollution Control Act offered government funds for the research of air pollution. When the Clean Air Act was passed, it provided a federal program from the U.S. Public Health Service to authorize research to control and monitor air pollution. 

Clean Water Act 

The U.S. created the Clean Water Act to govern water pollution. The objective of the law is to both maintain and restore the biological, chemical, and physical integrity of the water in the country. This entails addressing contamination and providing states with funding to improve wastewater treatment. The Clean Water Act is also intended to protect the wetlands of the country. In coordination with state governments, the Clean Water Act works to assist states with dredging and filling — these tasks are carried out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

Migratory Bird Treaty Act 

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act came into effect in 1918 and is a federal law in the United States. It serves to implement the protection of migratory birds, particularly those that travel between the U.S. and Great Britain, which means the law acts on behalf of Canada as well. According to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it is illegal to capture, hunt, kill, pursue, or sell birds that are classified as “migratory.” The Act doesn’t discriminate against dead or live birds and offers total protection to bird parts, such as eggs, nests, and feathers. Currently, more than 800 species of birds are protected under the Act. 

National Forest Management Act 

The National Forest Management Act was put in place in 1976. Its goal is to require the U.S. Forest Service to create objectives for national forests, set guidelines for the sale of timber, and implement policies to monitor the harvesting of wood. These regulations serve the purpose of conserving the forests in the U.S. and preventing irreversible damage from clear-cutting and constant logging. The Forest Service is required by Congress to intently assess, plan, and research for the national forest resource use. The Forest Service must also predict future demand for wood and review the economic and environmental impact of timber harvesting. 

Attorneys and Law Firms that Practice Environmental Law 

There are also lawyers and law firms who specialize in environmental law. These legal professionals are committed to defending individuals and corporations that are working to preserve the environment. Attorneys who specialize in environmental law also hold people accountable when their personal or professional practices can harm the environment. 

Conservation Law Foundation in Portland, Maine, concentrates on cases involving clean air and water, climate change, and keeping the ocean free of contaminants. The foundation also focuses on market strategies, partnering with investors, and community organizations to create clean energy and implement environmentally-friendly practices in communities.  

Cory Briggs, a San Diego attorney, ensures that new and existing communities in Southern California are safe from environmental contaminants. Briggs and his team are well-versed in zoning regulations that permit construction while keeping water and air safe for those who live in the area.  

And Portland, Oregon’s Chenoweth Law Group is also committed to upholding the law as it pertains to the environment. Whether you’re facing environment-related allegations or your property has been affected by pollution, the qualified attorneys at Chenoweth Law Group will review the details of your case and ensure that you’re well represented in court. 

Learning about environmental law can help you make wise decisions for your family and your business. Becoming familiar with these laws also helps you protect yourself from environmental violations, so you can make strides to protect your community.