What is Environmental Law?
Environmental law looks at all the factors that pertain to an economy and its production and industry to assess its impact on the environment and to propose regulations that will reduce environmental harm. It is mostly considered with regulations and treaty agreements between countries, corporations, and public interest initiatives that promote the conservation of natural resources and enhance energy efficiency.
According to Wikipedia,
“Environmental law is a collective term encompassing aspects of the law that provide protection to the environment. A related but distinct set of regulatory regimes, now strongly influenced by environmental legal principles, focus on the management of specific natural resources, such as forests, minerals, or fisheries. Other areas, such as environmental impact assessment, may not fit neatly into either category, but are nonetheless important components of environmental law.”
Environmental law is necessary to combat issues related to the environment and conservation of natural resources. For instance – environmental laws pertain to issues like global warming, climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, acid rain, hunting of endangered species, deforestation, depletion of natural resources, pollution of water, air and soil.
In the United States, the chief government agency for administering environmental regulations is the Environmental Protection Agency. In most countries, states have their own environmental protection agencies that administer laws pertaining to issues of concern to the natural environment and to protect human health.
- Components of Environmental Law
- Global Initiatives in Environmental Law
- Importance of Environmental Law
What is Involved in Measuring Environmental Law?
When researchers and monitors are assessing the environmental law of a person or community, they are looking at how external elements are impacting the mental, emotional and physical health of the individual and at large. They can come in to do assessments that are focused on decreasing epidemics or childhood morbidity, as well as to improve the overall preventative healthcare measures in the area.
Environmental law regulations can extend to cover housing, transportation, food and water management as well. There is not one aspect of life that is not covered by environmental law as it recognizes the interrelation of all areas of economy and community on a person’s health state.
Components of Environmental Law
1. Waste Management
One of the major areas addressed by environmental law initiatives is waste management. This can take the form of helping to build or upgrade waste management systems to make sure that waste is not polluting groundwater or causing the spread of disease. It can also take the form of managing radioactive waste materials. In areas of the world where industrialization is changing traditional community living, there may also have to be education programs done that demonstrate public health hygiene.
2. Food Production
Food production is another area covered by environmental law. Regulations will concern everything from how seed is harvested and prepared to what types of fertilizer and pesticides are used to nurture the crops to maturity. They will also examine processing, packaging and storage facilities for food products to ensure that all ingredients are safe for human consumption, and there is less risk for contamination or spoiled food.
In some instances, environmental law may also address transportation needs for food as the infrastructure in some areas of the world may make it difficult to get adequate food supplies to the population.
3. Water Reserves
Making sure that adequate drinking water, or potable water, is available to a community is another key issue with environmental law. Environmental law advocates will also look towards creating reserves of water that can be adequately protected from contamination. They don’t just look towards drinking and cooking water but making sure there is adequate irrigation for crops as well.
Another aspect of water control is to make sure that proper drainage systems are in place. This has to do with the health concerns that can be caused by standing water and how it can promote the presence of disease carried by mosquitoes that can breed in standing water.
4. Pollution Control and Remediation
Environmental law is concerned with the control of pollution on the one hand and the conservation of natural resources on the other hand. It also has relevance to product design in the form of environmentally friendly materials, emission controls and energy-efficient devices.
5. Flora and Fauna
Flora and fauna must be protected as they have been under constant threat by human activity. Environmental law may be enacted to protect biodiversity or as a special means for protecting species deemed important for other reasons. The need of the hour is to come up with new laws to protect endangered species from poachers, prohibition on killing or disruption of existing species and efforts to induce or support species recovery.
Environmental law also studies the impact of mining of natural resources from beneath the ground. The extraction of these minerals from the ground causes pollution in the air and water as chemicals come in contact with the environment. Mining also gets affected by various regulations regarding environmental impact of mining as well as the health and safety of miners.
7. Emissions and Construction
Environmental law will also examine the condition and quality of housing and transportation in regards to its improvement and expansion. In recent times, an example of how environmental law helped to change and shape building policies is the focus on removing lead and asbestos from the building.
With transportation, it can become an issue of environmental law if a community is not served by public transportation or adequate infrastructure so they can reach the services and opportunities that exist around them. Also, the emissions regulations of transportation vehicles are also of concern.
Global Initiatives in Environmental Law
The United Nations is working to coordinate consistent environmental law applications by overseeing various treaties and agreements between nations that will help to make sure that global efforts towards preserving the environment are effective. They oversee projects that involve everything from managing emissions controls to export and import restrictions, management of levels of known harmful substances and the development of environmental health programs.
One of the complicating factors about implementing global standards of environmental law is that so many developing countries need the existing and polluting manufacturing processes and may not have the financial ability to promote sustainable industries. By working together and gaining signatories for environmental efforts, more can be done with the cooperation of developed countries to make sure that past mistakes are not repeated.
Importance of Environmental Law
The environment is important for human existence. To protect the environment, it is important to have some legislation in place. The environmental laws provide a guideline so that we can take care of the environment in an effective manner. We have different legal organizations and charitable institutions that take care of the environment and implement the rules.
The two basic factors that come under environmental law is conservation and management. This is a common law that includes conventions, treaties, regulations and statutes to preserve and protect the environment. It also required to be ensured that the law is followed when it comes to taking care of the environment and maintaining a balance between humanity and nature. Negligence of these laws results in various punishments.
1. Protect human health and the environment
The main job of environmental law is to protect human health as well as the environment. It is all about making balance. The role of the environment is to ensure that the practices used in the environment do not cause harm to the environment, human or animal health.
The areas like air quality, water quality, waste management, contaminant cleanup, chemical safety, resource sustainability come under this law. Therefore, environmental laws play a huge part in protecting humans, animals, habitats, and resources.
There are some practices that interfere with the safety of human health and the environment, and the work of the law is to protect people in such instances. For instance, the use of harmful pesticides in agriculture that makes a really bad impact on human and animal health is one of the areas where environmental law is concerned. Without these laws, there would be no regulations concerning pollution, contamination, hunting, or even response to disasters.
2. Waste management in a proper way
Waste management is one of the biggest problems that the world is facing today. It is a very serious problem, and finding efficient and environmentally friendly waste management procedures is very important. With proper waste management, it will be easy to protect the environment.
The environmental law is to make sure that the process of waste management does not impact the environment or human health badly and also that waste materials are disposed of according to the set standards and procedures. For example-Sweden even made it to the level of importing waste from other countries by developing perfect waste managing and recycling machinery.
3. Govern industries and manufacturing
The setting up industries and manufacturing plants are not possible without the environmental law. The environmental law will make sure that industries meet all the legal obligations that are required to respect and save our environment. It is the duty of an environmental lawyer to make sure that industries meet all the laws, and they are also concerned about the protection of the surroundings and environment.
4. Protect environment officers
Protecting the environment is a very crucial job. The people like the officers and enforcers who make sure that these regulations are met and respected also need to be protected by the law and should be given the power to do their job in the most efficient way without interference from outside. Therefore, the environment officers and enforcers need to be protected by the law so that they can be able to do the job in the best way possible. Enforcers and officers have to be protected to implement and control without any illegal interference.
Thanks to the environment that we exist. So if we want to keep it intact, we need to legally conserve it for the future with the help of the environmental law.