5a: Identify major events in the history of environmental law.
- Name some key events within the environmental law history timeline.
- How do state and federal environmental laws differ in the United States?
How humans interact with the natural world has evolved over time. The preservation of wilderness and the conservation of resources was a main focus when the environmentalism movement emerged. However, in response to the environmental movement, several laws emerged to regulate pollution and to protect natural resources which were at risk because of human activity.
5b: Describe key environmental laws in the United States and the European Union.
Review these key environmental laws in the following resources.
- Name some major environmental laws the U.S. Congress passed in the United States.
- What is the history behind the introduction and implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)?
- What are the main goals of the Clean Air Act?
- What are the main goals of the 1977 Clean Water Act?
- What are the main goals of the Endangered Species Act?
- Name some of the main goals of environmental policy in the European Union (EU)?
- What is considered our shared life support system?
- Define environmental impact assessment (EIA).
- Describe the main reasons policy makers require builders, businesses and industry to conduct an environmental impact assessment.
Many communities require individuals, businesses, and industry to present relevant policy makers with an environmental impact assessment for any development proposals they have that may impact the environment and surrounding community.
For example, these laws require a developer who wants to build a housing development to identify and predict whether their plans will have any biophysical, social, or other relevant effects on the community, such as whether it will negatively impact the water supply, wildlife, or create pollution or industrial waste. Businesses need to detail how their company will mitigate any negative environmental damage they may cause.
5c: Assess the impact of these environmental laws.
- What are the three main points of the summary, What Future for International Environmental Law?
- Name and describe the purpose of some major international environmental treaties of past decades.
- Describe some shortcomings of the current international framework.
- What are the proposed principles to ensure environmental compliance in the 21st century?
It is important to understand the ways we use laws to protect the environment, such as to alleviate the negative effects of climate change. For example, climate change can destabilize communities and exacerbate the spread of infectious diseases, resource depletion, and accelerate migration. Environmental laws seek to address climate change through legislations and legal systems on the local, regional, national, and global level.
Unit 5 Vocabulary
- Aarhus Convention
- Agenda 21
- Biological diversity
- Clean Air Act
- Clean Water Act (1977)
- Climate regime
- Endangered Species Act
- Environmental impact assessment (EIA)
- Environmental health network
- Environmental policy
- Environmental restoration
- European Union
- Global Island Partnership
- Global Program of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land Based Activities (GPA),
- Global economy
- Going "green"
- Greening technology
- International Treaty
- Kaleidoscopic system
- National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
- Rio Declaration on Environment and Development
- Shared life support system
- Sustainable environment
- Toxic tort
- United Nations
- United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea