Environmental law encompasses the protection of public health and workplace health and safety, as well as the protection of natural resources. The focus of this publication is the description of laws that establish compliance obligations for businesses specifically intended to protect human health, the environment, and safety. Environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act that focus almost exclusively on the protection of natural resources are not covered.
Many federal agencies are responsible for administering components of environmental laws, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the primary agency that administers programs and rules to protect the general population from significant risks to human health and safeguard the environment in the United States. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the primary agency responsible for protecting the workplace from environmental hazards, but shares some of that responsibility with EPA.
Compliance Rulemaking Process
Environmental law and its compliance mechanisms are more a system of environmental, health, and safety statutes, regulations, rules of evidence and procedure, judicial interpretations, civil and criminal codes, and common law than a set of specific rules that govern specific activities. There is, however, a process for developing a core set of rules that prescribe compliance requirements for specific categories of business activity:
- Congress and state legislatures adopt statutes that establish goals and directives to protect human health and the environment and delegate responsibility for implementing statutory directives to government agencies.
- Federal and state agencies ...