Environmental Law

Legal Definitions: Environmental Law

Environmental Law

“Environmental Law” refers to a complex and interlocking body of statutes, regulations, common law, treaties, and conventions, regulating the interaction between humanity and the natural environment. Its purpose is to protect the environment by controlling pollution, managing natural resources, and safeguarding ecosystems while balancing the needs of development and human welfare.

Key Areas of Environmental Law

  • Pollution Control: Laws regulating the emission of pollutants into the air, water, and soil to protect public health and the environment. Examples include the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.
  • Natural Resource Management: Laws governing the conservation and use of natural resources such as forests, minerals, and wildlife.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment: Regulations requiring analysis and public reporting of environmental impacts for major projects and developments.
  • Waste Management: Laws concerning the generation, treatment, and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous waste.
  • Land Use and Zoning: Regulations guiding land use and planning to incorporate environmental considerations and sustainable development.
  • Conservation Efforts: Efforts to protect endangered species, preserve biodiversity, and manage protected areas.
  • Climate Change and Global Warming: Laws and international agreements aimed at mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change.
  • Environmental Justice: Legal efforts to address the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on marginalized and economically disadvantaged communities.
  • International Environmental Law: International treaties and conventions, such as the Paris Agreement, that govern global environmental issues.

Environmental law is both domestic and international in scope, involving a complex mix of federal, state, and local laws, as well as international agreements and customary international law.