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US Env. Laws

Key environmental laws in United States

TermDefinition
Asbestos Hazard & Emergency Response Act (AHERA), 1986 Requires the inspection of U.S. schools for asbestos-containing material & either their management or removal.
Clean Air Act 1955 Established national primary & secondary air quality standards. Required states to develop implementation plan.
Clean Air Act 1970 Sets goals and standards for the quality and purity of air in the United States. By law, it is periodically reviewed.
Clean Air Act 1990 added an acid deposition control program, sets goals for the year 2000 of reducing annual SO2 emissions by 10 million tons from 1980 levels and reducing annual NOx emissions by 2 million tons, also from 1980 levels
Endangered American Wilderness Act, 1978 Prohibits commercial activities, motorized access, & infrastructure developments in congressionally designated areas
Pollution Prevention Act, 1990 Requires facilities to reduce pollution at its source. Reduction can be either in terms of volume &/or toxicity.
Energy Policy & Conservation Act, 1975 Allows president to draw from strategic petroleum reserve, form permanent home-heating oil reserve in NE, says when draw, expands DOE Weatherization Assist. Prog., sec. of Interior & Energy do national inventory of onshore oil & natural gas reserves.
Energy Policy Act, 1992 Provides for improved efficiency. It includes provisions to allow for greater competition in energy sales.
National Energy Security Act, 1978 & Energy Tax Act, 1978 Created favorable tax legislation & research & development commitments to expand the use of fuel ethanol in the U.S. to stimulate domestic production of ethanol
National Appliance Energy Conservation Act, 1987 Set minimum efficiency standards for numerous categories of appliances, including residential comfort equipment.
Price-Anderson Act, 1957 Limits the liability of the nuclear industry in the event of a nuclear accident in the U.S. It covers incidents that occur through operation of nuclear plants as well as transportation & storage of nuclear fuel & radioactive wastes.
U.S. Public Utility Regulatory Act (PURPA), 1978 Requires utilities to interconnect with small-scale independent power producers & pay fair market price for the electricity produced.
Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 1946 Requires regulatory agencies to follow standardized procedures when issuing regulations or standards & granting permits to facilities.
National Environmental Policy Act, (NEPA), 1969 Allow Council on Envir. Quality =board for general envir. conditions; directs federal agencies to take envir. consequences in decision making; requires Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be prepared for every major federal project having envir. impact.
International Environmental Act, 1983 Assist countries protecting & maintaining wildlife habitat, active role in conservation by Agency for International Development (AID), World Conservation Strategy guide for actions to conserve biological diversity. Funds denied for actions that degrade na
Pollution Prevention Act, 1990 Focuses on industry, government, & public attention on reducing the amount of pollution through cost-effective changes in production, operation, and raw materials use.
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 1966 Provides specifically that “any person” can make requests for government information. Citizens who make requests are not required to identify themselves or explain why they want the information they have requested.
Occupational Safety & Health Act, 1970 Ensures worker & workplace safety. Goal is to make sure employers provide their workers a place of employment free from recognized hazards to safety & health, such as exposure to toxic chemicals, excessive noise levels, mechanical dangers, heat or cold st
Alaskan National Interests Lands Conservation Act, 1980 Protects 100 million acres of parks, wilderness, & wildlife refuges in Alaska.
Antarctic Conservation Act, 1978 Protects native mammals, birds, & plants & their ecosystems. Law applies to all U.S. citizens & to all expeditions to Antarctica that originate from the U.S. Makes it unlawful,
Clean Water Act 1972 Part 1 Establishes & maintains goals/standards for U.S. water quality &purity. •Established basic structure for regulating pollutants discharges •Gave EPA authority to implement pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry.
Clean Water Act 1972 Part 2 •Maintained existing requirements to set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters. •Unlawful for any person to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained under its provisions.
Clean Water Act 1972 Part 3 •Funded the construction of sewage treatment plants under the construction grants program. •Recognized the need for planning to address the critical problems posed by nonpoint source pollution.
Clean Water Act 1987 increase controls on toxic pollutants
Clean Water Act 1990 to more effectively address the hazard of oil spills
Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 1938 Nation's major law regulating contaminants in food, including pesticides. Food and Drug Administration implements most of this law; the Environmental Protection Agency carries out its pesticide standard setting provisions (with FDA enforcement).
Coastal Zone Management Act, 1972 Partnership allowing states & federal government to work for protection of U.S. coastal zones from environmentally harmful overdevelopment. Provides federal funding to participating coastal states/territories for measures that conserve coastal areas.
Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (1986): Requires companies to disclose information about toxic chemicals they release into the air and water and dispose of on land.
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), 1980 Part 1 Created tax on chemical & petroleum industries & provided broad Federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or environment.
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), 1980 Part 2 formed prohibitions & requirements on closed & abandoned hazardous waste sites, allows for liability of persons responsible for releases of hazardous waste at these sites; made trust fund for cleanup when no responsible party could be identified
Endangered Species Act, 1973 Is designed to protect and recover endangered and threatened species of fish, wildlife & plants in the United States and beyond. Works in part by protecting species habitats.
Federal Land Policy and Management Act, 1976 Provides for protection of the scenic, scientific, historic and ecologic values of federal lands and for public involvement in their management.
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 1947 Controls the sale, distribution and application of pesticides. Pesticides must be registered & approved. Labels require directions for use & disposal. Amended in 1972, 1988, and 1996
Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), 1996 Is designed to ensure that levels of pesticide residues in food meet strict standards for public health protection. Required to protect infants and children from pesticides in food and water and from indoor exposure to pesticides.
Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, 1976 Governs the management and control of U.S. marine fish populations, and is intended to maintain and restore healthy levels of fish stocks and prevent overharvesting. Better known as the Magnuson Stevens Act.
Marine Mammal Protection Act, 1972 Protect whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals, manatees and other species of marine mammals from falling below optimum sustainable population levels. Requires wildlife agencies to review the use of underwater explosives/high-intensity active sonar .
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 1976 Part 1 Solid waste program encourages states to develop plans to manage nonhazardous industrial solid waste & municipal solid waste, sets criteria for landfills & other solid waste disposal facilities, & prohibits the open dumping of solid waste.
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 1976 Part 2 Hazardous waste program forms system for controlling hazardous wastes from time it is generate until its ultimate disposal. Underground storage tank (UST) program regulates underground storage tanks containing hazardous substances & petroleum products.
National Environmental Policy Act, 1970 established the President's Council on Environmental Quality, most important feature requires federal agencies conduct thorough assessments of the environmental impacts of all major activities undertaken or funded by the federal government.
Oil Pollution Act, 1990 requires oil storage facilities/vessels to prepare spill-response plans, provide rapid implementation, increases polluters' liability for cleanup costs, damage to natural resources, imposes measures designed to improve tanker safety and prevent spills.
Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act Proposition 65 California 1986 designed to provide public warnings about the risk of exposure to toxic chemicals and to eliminate toxins from drinking water supplies.
Safe Drinking Water Act, 1974 Establishes drinking water standards for tap water safety, and requires rules for groundwater protection from underground injection; amended in 1986 and 1996.
Safe Drinking Water Act 1996 Amendments added fund to pay for water system upgrades, set requirements, required new standards for common contaminants, included public "right to know" requirements to inform consumers about tap water. Does not apply to wells that supply less than 25 people.
Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, 1977 Is intended to ensure that coal mining activity is conducted with sufficient protections of the public and the environment, and provides for the restoration of abandoned mining areas to beneficial use
Nuclear Waste Policy Act Established both Federal government’s responsibility to provide a place for permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste & spent nuclear fuel, & generators’ responsibility to bear costs of permanent disposal.
Food Security Act (Farm Bill), 1985 Attempts to reverse the declining economic environment on the American farm & to conserve & restore wetlands, prairies, & other habitats.
Multiple Use & Sustained Yield Act, 1960, 1968 Directs U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to manage national forests for recreation, wildlife habitat, & timber production through principles of multiple use & sustained yield.
National Park Service Act, 1916 Created National Park Service in the Interior Department. monitor national parks & monuments, conserve scenery, natural, historic objects, wildlife, provide enjoyment in such a manner that will leave them unimpaired for enjoyment of future generations
Soil & Water Conservation Act, 1977 Provides for continuing appraisal of U.S. soil, water, & related resources, including fish & wildlife habitats, & a soil & water conservation program to assist landowners & land users in furthering soil & water conservation.
Surface Mining Control & Reclamation Act (SMCRA), 1977 Regulates surface coal mining & reclamation activities, establishes mandatory uniform standards for these activities on state & federal lands, including a requirement that adverse impacts on fish, wildlife, & related environmental values be minimized.
Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, 1968 Established National Wild & Scenic Rivers System for protection of rivers with important scenic, recreational, fish & wildlife, & other values.
Wilderness Act, 1964 Allowed U.S. government to set aside sections within national forest system, national parks, & national wildlife refuges as wilderness areas
Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HAZMAT), 1975 Governs the transportation of hazardous materials & wastes
Toxic Substances Control Act (TOSCA), 1976 Tracks 75,000 industrial chemicals currently produced/imported into U.S, repeatedly screens chemicals, can require reporting/ testing of those that pose environmental/human health hazard, can ban manufacture/import of chemicals that pose risk.
Marine Protection, Research, & Sanctuaries Act, 1972 Regulated dumping of waste into oceans & coastal waters
Ocean Dumping Ban Act, 1988 Makes it unlawful for any person to dump or transport for the purpose of dumping sewage, sludge, or industrial wastes into ocean waters.
Oil Spill Prevention & Liability Act, 1990 Strengthened EPA’s ability to prevent & respond to catastrophic oil spills. Established a trust fund (financed by a tax on oil) which is available to clean up spill.
Lacey Act, 1990 Adopt measures to aid in restoring game & other birds in parts of U.S. where they have become scarce or extinct & to regulate the introduction of birds & animals in areas where they has not existed.
Atomic Energy Act, 1954 Monitor commercial/national defense uses of atomic energy. Establish general regulatory structure for construction/use of nuclear power plants/nuclear weapons facilities. Not permit citizen suits/affords only limited opportunities by public groups.
National Ambient Air Quality Standards Designed to protect public health and welfare with an adequate margin of safety. . EPA set standards for six air pollutants: sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone,1 and lead.
Magnuson Fishery Conservation & Management Act Governed the conservation & management of ocean fishing
Created by: Norma Underwood