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Environmental Law & Policy

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.

  • America's Climate Choices Featured News Article America's Climate Choices 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 Featured Article Environmental Lessons from China Environmental Lessons from China

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

  • Environmental Assessment Featured Article Environmental Assessment Environmental Assessment

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

  • World Environment Day: 5 June 2012 Featured Article World Environment Day: 5 June 2012 World Environment Day: 5 June 2012

    World Environment Day (WED) is an annual event that is aimed at being the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action. World Environment... More »

  • National Ocean Policy Action Plan Featured News Article National Ocean Policy Action Plan 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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World Environment Day: 5 June 2012 Last Updated on 2013-10-19 00:03:55 World Environment Day (WED) is an annual event that is aimed at being the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action. World Environment Day activities take place all year round but climax on 5 June every year, involving everyone from everywhere. The theme of WED 2012 is "Green Economy: Does it include you?" World Environment Day celebration began in 1972 and has grown to become the one of the main vehicles through which the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action. Through World Environment Day, the UN Environment Programme is able to personalize environmental issues and enable everyone to realize not only their responsibility, but also their power to become agents for change in support of sustainable and equitable development. World Environment Day is also a day for people... More »
National Forest System (NFS) Roadless Area Initiatives Last Updated on 2013-09-30 17:30:22 Roadless areas in the U.S.National Forest System (NFS) have received special attention for decades. Many want to protect their relatively pristine condition; others want to use the areas in more developed ways. Two different roadless area policies have been offered in the last decade. On January 12, 2001, the Clinton Administration’s roadless area policy established a nationwide approach to managing roadless areas in the National Forest System to protect their pristine conditions. The Nationwide Rule, as it will be called in this report, generally prohibited road construction and reconstruction and timber harvesting in 58.5 million acres of inventoried roadless areas, with significant exceptions. The Bush Administration initially postponed the effective date of the Nationwide Rule, then issued its own rule that allowed states to plan how roadless areas were managed. It issued a... More »
Agriculture-based biofuels Last Updated on 2013-09-30 14:20:59 Summary Since the late 1970s, U.S. policymakers at both the federal and state levels have enacted a variety of incentives, regulations, and programs to encourage the production and use of agriculture-based biofuels. Initially, federal biofuels policies were developed to help kick-start the biofuels industry during its early development, when neither production capacity nor a market for the finished product was widely available. Federal policy has played a key role in helping to close the price gap between biofuels and cheaper petroleum fuels. Now, as the industry has evolved, other policy goals (e.g., national energy security, climate change concerns, support for rural economies) are cited by proponents as justification for continuing policy support. The U.S. biofuels sector has responded to these government incentives by expanding output every year since 1996, with important... More »
Climate change and terrestrial wildlife management in the Canadian North Last Updated on 2013-09-21 23:27:10 This is Section 11.3.2 of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment Lead Author: David R. Klein; Contributing Authors: Leonid M. Baskin, Lyudmila S. Bogoslovskaya, Kjell Danell, Anne Gunn, David B. Irons, Gary P. Kofinas, Kit M. Kovacs, Margarita Magomedova, Rosa H. Meehan, Don E. Russell, Patrick Valkenburg In comparison to ecosystems at lower latitudes in Canada most ecosystems in the Canadian Arctic are considered functionally intact, although the consequences for marine ecosystems of contaminants introduced from industrial activity to the south and climate-induced thawing are not known. Most threats typical for elsewhere in the world – such as habitat loss through agriculture, industry, and urbanization – are localized. Introduced species primarily associated with agriculture at lower latitudes are scarce, or largely confined to areas near communities. Invasive... More »
Industrial uses of lead Last Updated on 2013-09-17 22:29:34 The Toxics Use Reduction Institute is a Massachusetts government research entity that has used the unique usage data from the state pollution and prevention program to create selected chemical fact sheets. The following is from the Turi Lead Fact sheet. In 2004, Massachusetts manufacturers used more than 3.5 million pounds of lead and lead compounds. The total global industrial consumption of lead in 2003 was estimated to be 15.1 billion pounds, and the U.S. consumption of lead in 2003 was estimated to be 3.06 billion pounds. The greatest use of lead is in lead-acid batteries, however lead-acid batteries are not manufactured in Massachusetts. Lead has a low melting temperature (327° C) for a metal and is extremely malleable, which enables easy casting, shaping, and joining of lead products. Lead can be recycled as a secondary raw material from lead-acid batteries and... More »