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Presentation on theme: "CHAPTER 24 SECTIONS 3&4 LINDSEY REYES MARIA RONDON."— Presentation transcript:



3 CONCEPT 24-3 Environmental laws and regulations can be used to control pollution, set safety standards, encourage resource conservation and protect species and ecosystems.

4 ENVIRONMENTAL LAW FORMS THE BASIS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY Environmental law: Is a body of statements defining whats acceptable environmental behavior for individuals and groups, according to the larger community. Body of Law includes: -Statutory laws: those developed and passed by legislative bodies such as federal and state governments -Administrative laws: Administrative rules and regulations, executive orders, and enforcement decisions related to the implementation and interpretation of statutory laws. -Common law: a body of unwritten rules and principals derived from thousands of past legal decisions along with commonly accepted practices, or norms: with society.

5 ENVIRONMENTAL LAW FORMS THE BASIS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY Most environmental law suits are Civil Suits and many common law cases are settled using the legal concept of nuisance (Which occurs when people use their property in a way that causes annoyance or injury to others) For example someone can bring a nuisance suit to a nearby factory because of the noise it generates. In such a case the plaintiff (the part bringing the charge) seeks to collect damages from the defendant (the party being charged) for injuries to health or for economic loss. The plaintiff can also seek an injunction by which the defendant is required to stop whatever action is causing the harm

6 ENVIRONMENTAL LAW FORMS THE BASIS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY Anyone individual can bring a civil suit. A class action suit is a civil suit filed by a group, often a public interest or environmental group, on behalf of a larger number of citizens. Usually as opposed to shutting the problem completely down, such as a factory, the court tries to find a reasonable or balanced solution to the problem. Using the same example of a factory that created too much noise, the court may order the factory to reduce noise to certain levels or to eliminate it during certain periods such as night.

7 ENVIRONMENTAL LAW FORMS THE BASIS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY Another concept used in common law (the first being nuisance) is negligence. In which a party causes damage knowingly acting in an unlawful or unreasonable manner. Example #1: a company may be found negligent if it fails to handle hazardous wastes in a way required by a statutory law. Example #2: a company may be found guilty if it fails to do something a reasonable person would do, such as testing waste for harmful chemicals before dumping it into a sewer landfill or river. Negligence is harder to prove than nuisance.

8 ENVIRONMENTAL LAW SUITS ARE DIFFICULT TO WIN Environmental lawsuits are expensive, require proof of suffering, and are difficult to win Plaintiffs must establish they have legal standing in a particular court. Bringing lawsuits are expensive, especially for individuals (class action suits are often a preferred tactic) Public interest law firms cannot recover attorney fees unless Congress authorizes it in laws the firms are seeking to have enforced. To stop a nuisance or to collect damages from nuisance or negligence plaintiffs must establish they have been harmed and that the defendant caused harm. Statutes of limitations (laws that limit how long a plaintiff can take to sue after a particular event occurs) determine how long a plaintiff can take to sue after an event occurs. The court or courts may take years to reach a decision

9 OPEN DITCH CONTAINING ACID RUNOFF FROM A CLOSED COAL MINE IN W. VIRGINIA, U.S. Often it is difficult or impossible to hold polluters accountable in the court of law

10 ARBITRATION AND MEDIATION ARE ALTERNATIVES TO BATTLING IN COURT Arbitration: Somewhat similar to a trial, to resolve a dispute Can save time, money, and the uncertainly of a jury trial Mediation: Parties involved are encouraged to sit and talk under the guidance of a professional mediator Can save money and time May not be legally binding

11 MAJOR TYPES OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS IN THE U.S Concerned citizens have persuaded congress to enact important environmental ad resource protection laws that: Set standards for pollution levels Screens new substances Encourages resource conservation Sets aside or protects certain species, resources, and ecosystems Requires evaluation of the environmental impact of an activity proposed by a federal agency

12 U.S ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS HAVE BEEN UNDER ATTACK Who is opposing the U.S. environmental laws? There are 3 major groups Some corporate leaders and other powerful people who see them as threats to their profit Some citizens who see them as threats to their private property Some state and local officials who resent having to implement federal laws/regulations with little/no federal funding Since 2000, environmental laws weakened by executive orders and congressional actions We can prevent further weakening by Science-based education Education about the current state of the environmental laws Organized bottom-up political pressure from concerned citizens


14 IMPORTANT ROLES OF CITIZEN ENV. GROUPS Non profit NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) work at international, state, and local levels. They steer global conservation, environmental, and environmental justice movements by influencing environmental decisions and policies. They monitor governments, corporations, and international agencies to expose corruption and violations of national environmental agreements Global public policy networks: groups that focus on a specific environmental problem by collaborating with governments, private sectors, international organizations and NGOs.

15 CASE STUDY: NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL NRDC goes to court to stop environmentally harmful practices, informs and organizes millions of environmental activists online, magazines/newsletters take actions to protect the environment globally, regionally, and locally. NRDC helped US citizens block a government policy that would allows sewer operators dump barely treated sewage in lakes, rivers, and streams.

16 GRASSROOTS BRING ABOUT CHANGE Grassroots citizen groups usually work at a local level. Work together in a loosely connected world-wide network of grassroot NGOs that work bottom-up for political, social, economic, and environmental change. Conservation land trusts: property owners agree to protect land from developments or other harmful environmental activities, in return for a tax break Nonviolent and nondestructive tactics work more often than violent tactics because they are bad for publicity. After protesting one company, another company may follow suit. Ex: Home Depot + Lowes

17 INDIVIDUALS MATTER: BUTTERFLY IN A REDWOOD TREE Julia Hill, Butterfly remained in an endangered Redwood Tree for two years to protest the cutting down of these ancient trees. Trees continued to be cut down around her, and Butterfly lost her battle. The Redwood Tree, Luna is preserved by steel plates after it had been seriously damaged with a chainsaw. The lumber company created a 200ft bufferzone around it. Julia Hill wrote a book about her protest, and travels worldwide inspiring others to stand up for environmental causes.

18 STUDENTS CAN PLAY IMPORTANT ROLES Environmental awareness in schools and universities has boomed since the 1980s. Environmental audits: student environmental groups gather data on practices affecting environments and use it to propose changes that are both economically and environmentally sound. It is universities and colleges responsibility to educate future generations about living sustainably. No campus in US is close to living sustainably.

19 SUMMARY Grassroots groups are growing and combining efforts with large environmental organizations in a global sustainability movement. Environmental groups range from small grassroots groups to major global organizations. Their roles include monitoring environmental activities, working to pass and strengthen environmental law, and working with corporations to find solutions to problems. Opponents of these groups include some corporate leaders, some corporations, and some citizens.


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