The EPA monitors and analyzes the environment, conducts research and works closely with state and local governments to devise pollution control policies. The National Environmental Policy Act, enacted in 1969, has been described as one of Congress’s most far-reaching pieces of environmental legislation ever passed. The basic purpose of the act is to force governmental agencies to consider the effects of their decisions on the environment. State laws also reflect the same concerns, and common-law actions allow adversely affected property owners to seek a judicial remedy for environmental harms.
Over the last half century, with the recognition that unregulated use of natural resources and unmanaged industrial production can have a broad range of undesirable consequences, a body of law has developed that seeks to balance the interests of commerce and the economy with the need to protect the health and welfare of individuals and the environment.
The U.S. Congress created the Environmental Protection Agency, and has taken action to promote policies that improve air and water quality standards across the nation. Legislation has also been enacted to cover the costs of cleanup of toxic waste facilities.
The federal government, after the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, has taken the lead in enacting measures to protect air and water quality, and to respond to environmental challenges.
The extraction of energy resources, as well as other essential materials for technological and industrial production, can have an impact on the environment.
State and federal legislators have introduced or enacted a number of laws governing alternative sources of energy, including solar, hydroelectric, wind and geothermal energy.
As water becomes more of a scarce resource, the body of law governing use of and access to water becomes more complex.
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How It Works