Governmental process in env
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Governmental Process in ENV. Government & Environmental Technology. Governmental Processes; federal, state & local governments all play a role Practitioners in the field of Environmental Technology need to know how to locate, read and understand numerous environmental laws and regulations.

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Governmental Process in ENV

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Governmental Process in ENV

Government & Environmental Technology

  • Governmental Processes; federal, state & local governments all play a role

  • Practitioners in the field of Environmental Technology need to know how to locate, read and understand numerous environmental laws and regulations.

What are laws?

  • Called statutes or acts

  • Restraining standards that govern society

  • Enacted with the goal of creating a better society

Two forms of law in the U.S.

  • Criminal (public) Law

  • Civil (private) Law

  • Divided between laws against society (Criminal Law) and those between individuals (Civil Law)

Public or Criminal Law

  • Laws providing the basic rules of our system of government

  • Criminal acts against society

  • Operation and establishment of administrative agencies

  • Court cases

  • Prescribes punishments for violations

  • Can be subject to interpretation because they are written to cover a broad range of activities

  • Can include an interwoven body of court decisions, statutes, regulations, policies and procedures that are continually changing

  • Evidence for conviction must be “beyond a reasonable doubt”

Private or Civil Law

  • Settles disputes between parties or individuals

  • Government’s role is to act as judge

  • Preponderance of evidence is the level of evidence for conviction

Other Important Terms for Understanding Law

  • Statutory law is written law, the exact wording approved by a legislative body

  • Case law consists of written decisions made by courts and are used as precedents in making future decisions

Three branches of U.S. Government

Executive Branch

  • Proposes laws and approves or vetoes laws passed by the legislative branch as well as enforces the laws

  • Consists of the President and the regulatory and administrative agencies who report to him

  • The President nominates the heads of the various agencies, who are then accepted or declined by Congress

Legislative Branch

  • Makes & amends laws

  • Appropriates funds to enact legislation

Judicial Branch

  • Examine Laws

  • Interpret laws through court cases

  • Assure laws are justly applied

Supreme laws of the land!

  • No state can enact a law less strict than the federal law

  • They do have the right to make more restrictive laws

  • Many states allow citizens to take law making into their own hands through the initiative process or through referendums (Example - Calif. Propositions)

  • Both require petitions to illustrate voter support before the issue will be placed on the ballot

  • Congressional statues are found in the US Code or USC

  • The implementation of the law is carried out by independent agencies of the federal government or state governments

    • They interpret the law and create regulations to enforce specific compliance requirements

Rules and Regulations are developed by regulatory agencies

  • EPA

  • DOT (including the Coast Guard)

  • Department of Labor including OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration

  • NRC – Nuclear Regulatory Administration

  • Department of the Interior including the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Land Management Bureau

  • Department of Energy

Federal Register System

  • Announces and publishes rules in two major publications

    • The Federal Register – FR

      • Published information on proposed rules, final rules, notices on proposed rule making and meeting notices

    • The Code of Federal Regulations - CFR

      • A listing of all the rules published in the FR compiled in a rule book by topic

Regulatory Numbering System

  • Title 40CFR

  • Part260

  • Section4

  • Paragraphs(a)(1)(ii)

  • i.e. §260.4(a)(1)(ii) of 40CFR

EnforcementMonitoring Compliance

  • Compliance Evaluation Inspection (CEI)

  • Can be routine

  • Follow complaints or tips

  • Result from referrals from other agencies

Freedom of Information Act of 1966

  • The public is entitled to any information collected by a governmental agency

    • Records for environmental assessments can be obtained in this manner or in a more informal manner

The Privacy Act of 1974

  • Federal agencies must provide individuals with information pertaining to them

  • And are required to amend or correct any files that are inaccurate

Enforcement Actions

List of steps available for enforcement:

  • Administrative Enforcement Actions

  • Civil Actions

  • Criminal Actions

Administrative Enforcement Action

  • Least severe action available does not involve the court system

  • May be an Notice of Violation (NOV), Notice of Deficiency (NOD), or more formal administrative order (w/ public meeting requirement)

  • Resolution could be by correction of the problem, sometimes accompanied by a fine

  • Used to force compliance, the taking of corrective action, monitoring, testing and analysis, or to address a threat to human health or environment

Civil Actions

Formal lawsuits filed by federal,state or local government attorneys (or private individuals)

  • Can be used to force compliance

  • Suspend or revoke permits or authorizations

  • Impose large penalties

  • The burden of proof for the plaintiff is only a preponderance of evidence (true for all civil actions)

Criminal Actions

  • Most severe action available

  • Can result in fines and/or imprisonment

  • Result of severe violations such as falsifying evidence or reports, putting another person in imminent danger or illegal disposal of hazardous waste

  • Misdemeanors are punishable by a fine and/or prison (generally short <1 year)

  • Those who commit felonies can be imprisoned longer

  • But guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt (true for all criminal actions)

National Environmental Policy Act

  • NEPA - 1970

  • Requires the preparation of and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

  • Whenever the federal government engages in any activity that may have a negative affect on the environment

Federal Clean Air Act

  • CAA - 1970, amended 1990

  • Protects the public health and welfare from the harmful effects of air pollution

  • Sets standards for maximum levels of outdoor air pollution, and emission standards for sources

  • Holds state and local governments responsible for controlling pollution sources

Federal Clean Water Act

  • CWA - 1972

  • Restores and maintains the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation’s waters

  • Nationwide standards are set for industrial discharge and municipal sewage systems by the EPA

Safe Drinking Water Act

  • SDWA - 1974

  • Establishes federal standards for drinking water quality and protects underground sources of water

  • Enforced by the EPA

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

  • RCRA - 1976

  • Deals with both municipal and hazardous waste problems and encourages resource recovery and recycling

  • Administered by the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER)

Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act

  • FIFRA - 1947, amended 1972, 1974, 1978

  • All pesticides must be registered with the EPA, process determines labeling & usage

  • Reviews labeling and directions for application and sets maximum safe levels for pesticide residue in human and animal foods

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act

  • CERCLA “Superfund” - 1980, amended 1986

  • Makes owners and operators liable for hazardous waste releases on their property

  • The act imposes joint and several liability

  • System for identifying and cleaning up chemical and hazardous materials released into any part of the environment

  • EPA collects the cost of cleanup from the responsible parties and sets up a fund for cleanup when necessary

Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act


  • EPA certifies asbestos inspectors and requires certain procedures for asbestos abatement in school buildings

Toxic Substance Control Act

  • TSCA - 1976

  • System of pre-market notifications if a company wishes to market a new chemical, may require additional testing before the chemical is sold

  • Also requires testing of some chemicals already on the market, resulting in possible restrictions or a ban by the EPA

Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act

  • Ocean Dumping Act

  • EPA and the Coast Guard limit the type and location of any ocean dumping

Occupational Safety and Health Act

  • OSHA - 1970

  • Assures safe and healthful working conditions

  • Develops regulatory standards, keeps records of injuries and conducts training and enforcement programs

Atomic Energy Act

  • AEA - 1954

  • Controls possession, development and use of radioactive materials

  • Currently enforced by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

Hazardous Materials Transportation Act

  • HMTA - 1975

  • Regulates the handling and transportation of hazardous materials

  • Enforced by the Department of Transportation (DOT)

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