With increasing pollution levels and environmental degradation, environment protection has received a lot of importance in the last few decades. The U.S. Is no exception. Environmental laws started being formulated in the 1960s to deal with matters like air and water pollution. During this period, the Environmental Protective Agency (EPA) was also set up. But businesses felt that these laws harmed their interests and opposed them.
However, recognizing the need for saving the environment, as well as international pressure and pressure from environmentalists, the government has focused the spotlight on the environment and is taking measures to protect it.
In the U.S., environmental law can take either of two forms:
In this case, the government sets up rules which businesses and individuals are required to follow. They have no choice in the matter. Failure to comply may result in fines or other penalties.
It has been found that businesses respond better to inducements. Accordingly, the government rewards companies which follow guidelines pertaining to environmental pollution. This can be in the form of tax concessions or any other form of reward. Also, the government may punish companies which do not follow them by imposing higher taxes or making it difficult for them to expand their business or start new businesses.
Different agencies have been entrusted with varying responsibilities for upholding environmental law and working for the cause of the environment.
Federal agencies like the EPA handle issues related to air and water pollution, solid waste, radiation, pesticides, noise and toxic substances. The Department of Agriculture is in charge of environmental law related to forestry and soil conservation. The Department of Labor is in charge of occupational health.
There are also various senate committees which uphold environment law, like Committee on Foreign Relations which is in charge of the international environment. Another example is the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry which handles pesticide related matters.
Then there are several House committees. The Committee on Natural Resources which is in charge of ocean dumping and the Committee on Science and Technology which handles research and development are a few examples.