Environmental Law

  • Environmental laws began in the 1800s with municipal trash burning, and river disposal regulations
  • Soon, due to the 'flowing nature' of rivers, states began to regulate trash disposal.
  • Gradually in the 1940s and '50s the 'environment' switched to the federal government, first primarily in the area of research, and later to actual regulation
    Types of Environmental laws:

    Economics and the Environment
    • Net Economic Welfare (NEW) measures the nations output by subtracting pollution damage from the Gross National Product
    • cost-benefit analysis is used to determine the maximum pollution reduction at a minimum cost. pollution control has usually been enforced by punitive measures. (mostly fines)
    • pollution controls have resulted in the creation of a large number of new jobs
    • 'time preference' affects the environment - some farmers may prefer to wreck havoc upon their fields to get immediate massive yields, while others will try to get long lasting, but more humble yields.
    • increasing population growth and per capita consumption of resources has a negative impact on the environment
    • some economists suggest a totally self-supportive, 'recycling' economic system would be the most beneficial goal to seek after.
    • Sustainable economic development - procedures that allow us to meet current needs, but won't hamper future environmental requirements for survival.
    • appropriate technology - technology geared to local resources
    • taxpayers, consumers, and businesses all foot part of the bill for pollution control devices.

    Environmental Groups
    • National Conservatory - uses its fund to buy land for plant and wildlife management. These lands are often sold to state agencies - with interest. Also, buys third-world debts in exchange for environmental regulations
    • Natural Resource Council of Maine - uses research and editorials to convince the legislature to enact land-use planning regulations and 'save' nature