The US Environmental Law System Should Be Stricter
Table of Contents
At the moment, the USA is a country, which possesses the strong environmental legislation and control. It is a predecessor of ecology because it was the first one to suffer from impertinence for nature. Within the 1960s and 1970s, some of the urbanized and industrialized areas of the United States were on the verge of the environmental catastrophe (Lee 42). The extraction of minerals by an open method, industrial waste, and other sources of pollution had not been considered a real threat to the life and health of humans and other living beings. It has been proved that water and air in cities are harmful to people as they contain industrial impurities. The measures to improve the environmental situation began to apply, namely, from this moment. In 1970, the United States adopted federal laws on the national environmental policy, as well as laws on clean air, clean water, and so on (Lee 43). There was an introduction of new technologies. Therefore, the expenditures on environmental measures were set. The society has showed an important initiative. As a result, the state of the surrounding began to gradually improve. Nonetheless, there have been the problems associated with the environment to this day. Therefore, the surrounding based legal system of the USA is to be stricter than the existing one to ensure the country’s environmental safety as it comprises the national security component.
The Pros of Stricter Environmental Laws
In the US, environmental legislation is a relatively new and rapidly developing industry. It includes the norms of various branches of the material and procedural law: civil, administrative, financial, and criminal. It has three goals, namely to ensure the steady application as well as to comply with and enforce the rules for its protection in all spheres of private and productive activities. Moreover, it aims to prevent damage to nature and the environment and bring to responsibility the guilty persons violating the established mandatory requirements in the field of nature protection.
The problems of ecology are relevant in all countries of the world. Each state finds its ways to prevent deterioration of the negative environmental situation. The United States of America is a nation, the natural environment of which has recently undergone the significant changes. This statement serves as the first argument in favor of making the environmental law stricter. First, the coastal lowlands of the Atlantic coast were known to be replaced by residential and industrial buildings, fields, sown meadows, gardens, and communication. Then, pasture, urban and industrial landscapes, and fields became prevailing in the Central and Great Plains. After it, the turn of the Pacific states began, where forestry landscapes were also added to this list (Lee 44). The last but not least, mountain states started to master, the most characteristic of which were mining landscapes. Nature suffered a great damage. The population of the United States is only 6% of the world’s population, while the country consumes half of all energy resources of the earth and produces 69% of global debris and greenhouse gas emissions (Lee 44). The level of air pollution in American cities with the population of more than 100,000 people is 19 μg of small solid particles with the diameter of not more than 11 μm (Lee 49). In addition to this, the air in the US is cleaner than in such popular resorts as Austria (29 μg) and Greece (39 μg) (Lee 50). Also, 88% of Americans are satisfied with tap water (Lee 50). These data point to the fact that the USA has to sustain the ecology and make the laws stricter.
In the United States, the air in the areas of large freeways and highways is unusually clean for such a place. It is not surprising as the standards of ecology applied to both cars and the quality of gasoline are the highest ones. Even higher norms of eco-engineering in the state of California, there are also a lot of electric cars. However, Californians still laugh at the residents of more cowboy states, where a pickup is the most acceptable transport. Nevertheless, most Americans have already realized after the 2008 financial and economic crisis that the time of huge and voracious cars had passed. Therefore, together with the solution of environmental problems, the issue of gasoline costs will be solved. To preserve the positive tendency of the environment, it is paramount to develop the legal system.
The main environmental studies in the United States are distributed into two essential directions. The first one is the matter of clean air and the concern of solid domestic waste. Because of the lack of clean air, all megalopolises being already called smog-polis suffer. Everyone knows that the main source of this disaster is the industry and a large number of cars. Also, the important issue is the one related to solid domestic waste. To this day, in large agglomerations, the removal of solid household waste is complicated because landfills are far from them. That is why the separate collection of garbage and collection points to the fact that recyclables are necessary.
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A highly ecological approach to life in the United States is manifested everywhere. The ecology of streets and parks in the US is immediately visible. Near the parks, there are even automatic machines that issue packages for dogs. The general purity stimulates the speculation on everything. People want to maintain beauty and throw away waste only into a container. In most cases, order, culture, and, as a consequence, purity depend on such social factor, as money. The cleanest areas are where they do it, the regions of residence for the rich differ accordingly, and the high level of purity or so-called ghettos cannot boast of cleanliness, as well as safety.
The main thing that America is famous for is not its large number of well-off individuals. However, first of all, it is a small number of low-income people. Likewise, in the USA, all the benefits of ecology are envisaged for rich citizens. It also concerns the quality of food. In special shops and departments of grocery supermarkets, the ecological food is sold, for example, meat and milk of cows eating ecological grass. It is paramount to make the laws stricter to sustain the fact that the USA ranks first in the world. Due to the number of nuclear power plants, there are the cases of pollution of the surrounding. The Americans know that it is necessary to change all nuclear power plants to windmills and solar panels. However, the United States will not have enough of these mills to satisfy the American way of life. They cannot do without a nuclear power plant at this stage of life.
In the US, there is the Law on the National Environmental Policy. Moreover, long-term programs have been developed to prevent air, water, and soil pollution from industrial and domestic waste. Specific preventive measures are envisaged to safeguard the environment from the negative impact of human activities (Steinzor 732). The US environmental policy is expressed in comprehensive federal government measures to regulate the actions that have an impact on the world around. The goal of the environmental policy is to protect the surrounding for future generations. In the American legal system, the environmental law as an independent industry had been forming within the 1940s and 1960s. However, up to this period there were the separate normative acts regulating the use of natural resources and their partial protection (McLain et al. 655). In the US, along with European countries, the consumer attitude towards nature and the unlimited exploitation of natural resources quickly replaced the complex state regulation on environmental protection. It is not only declared but also reflected in practice (Steinzor 732). Regardless of this, the understanding in the US legal science of environmental law as a branch of legislation differs in its content from that adopted in legal science. The term Environmental Law is referred to environmental regulation that unites only the sources aimed at protecting the surrounding from pollution. There are also many independent acts related to the development of rational nature management and protection of safeguarded areas.
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The US Constitution does not contain the norms of direct actions on environmental protection. It serves as another reason to improve the law and make it stricter. However, this gap is compensated by applying such a legal device as the interpretation of the Constitution text by legislators and judges basing on generally accepted doctrines, traditions, and common sense (Steinzor 732). The functions of public authorities in the sphere of environmental management are not divided in the main document. However, this deficiency is also compensated by judicial interpretation (McLain et al. 657). As a result, judicial explanations and doctrines play an important role in shaping the US environmental law (Steinzor 732). An example of the latter one is the doctrine of the priority of public law basing on the fact, of which the state recognizes the priority of public interests over private ones (McLain et al. 655). This doctrine lies in the nature of the principle of American environmental law. It is applied not only to the resolution of environmental and legal disputes but also to planning of environmental measures.
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The comprehensive and centrally forming act in this area is the US National Environmental Policy Act (1969), which was released on 1 January 1970 (McLain et al. 655). It reflects the main directions of the American environmental policy, including the procedure for environmental standardization. This legal act has become the basis for renewal and further development of environmental regulation in the country (McLain et al. 654). Other effective sources of American environmental law include the Clean Water Act (1977) and the Pesticide Control Act (1972). These ones have established the procedure for the registration of pesticides approved for use. Also, there are such sources as the Wildlife Act (1964), the Clean Air Act (1955), the Endangered Species Act (1973), the Land Policy and Administration Act (1976), and so on (McLain et al. 655). The laws of the United States have established the institutions of environmental rationing. Ecological requirements are divided into two main groups, i.e. the standards for the quality of natural environments (water and atmospheric air) and the norms for the impact on these surroundings (Steinzor 732). One of the distinguishing features of environmental law is related to the great attention to the territories with a special ecological and legal status.
An important role in the system of sources of environmental law is played by by-laws that contain procedural and legal rules revealing the procedure for implementing certain provisions of federal laws. The smaller part is played by presidential and government decrees, but due to the acts of federal ministries and departments, effective mechanisms for starting environmental regulation have been created (McLain et al. 655). Along with the process of consolidating efforts to manage environmental protection in the United States, there is a course aimed at strengthening the environmental functions of line ministries and departments. They can be attributed to the bodies of sectoral management (Land and Timmons 789). After the adoption of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, all federal ministries and departments have been obliged to bring their powers, tasks, programs, and procedures in line with the purpose, objectives, and procedures set out in the Law (Clarvis et al. 99). In the administrative structure, departments or offices have been created to perform the duties, according to this act (Clarvis et al. 100). Functions and activities of federal bodies were comprehensive. It was impossible to comply with requirements without changing the entire order of regulation, planning, financing, and implementation of projects (Clarvis et al. 101). The concept of rational nature management has become the part of the integrated principle of sustainable development. It, in its turn, has formed the basis for the state environmental policy (Land and Timmons 789). The sectoral ministries and departments are charged with implementing measures aimed at combating negative phenomena and changes in the surrounding in the process of the economic activity (Clarvis et al. 99). Additional responsibilities have been formed under the influence of sectoral regulatory legal acts (laws regulating water and land relations controlling the use of pesticides, the protection of wildlife, and etc) (Clarvis et al. 99). Consequently, at the federal level, there is a system of executive bodies that carry out various functions for the protection of the environment.
Certainly, all the arguments in favor for making the environmental laws stricter can be refuted by the following statement. The ecology of the USA is already at the high level. However, it does not mean that it would stay at the same rate if the laws are not developed. Hence, the counterargument mentioned cannot serve as a strong point as it does not show the perspective of the further development of the legal system. Moreover, as a counterargument, it is possible to state that the stricter laws would require higher expenses rates to be spent for the developing measures and controlling them. However, this argument is still not persuasive as any law requires financial expenses. These costs can be reduced if the new regulations are properly managed and administered.
The United States of America has one of the most established legal mechanisms in the world; and it is a leader in solving environmental problems. This country has accumulated the extensive experience in effective environmental management in the market economy, which should be considered when improving the environmental legislation. The experience for the functioning of bodies related to environmental management and protection analyzed in this paper can be used to improve the structure of public administration in the future. The rich natural resources of the USA must serve its national interests and, in general, its development. The state is sufficiently rigid within the legal framework to ensure the compliance with this requirement. Effective control in the field of environmental management and protection, as well as public health is associated with ensuring not only environmental but as well overall national security.