environmental sustainabilityEnvironmental sustainability laws in the U.S. include the Clean Water Act; Clean Air Act; Endangered Species Act; Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act; and, Lacey Act.


Clean Water Act

The Clean Water Act regulates pollutant discharges into U.S. waters, and affects some agricultural operations, such as large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and, in some circumstances, farms that dredge or fill wetlands. The current law, written in 1972 and amended several times since, was a major expansion of the federal role in regulating water pollution, which had previously been seen as a state or local issue. The CWA seeks to move the nation to clean, abundant water supplies, and its provisions support protection of fish and other organisms in U.S. waters. Among the requirements of the CWA was that municipal and industrial wastewater be treated before being discharged into the nation’s waterways. CWA details…

Clean Air Act and Related Statutes

The United States safeguards public health and the quality of the natural environment by regulating air pollutants under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and related laws. Like many other environmental issues, public policies dealing with air pollution evolved from purely local or state jurisdiction in the early 20th century to a federal responsibility. A federal clean-air law was enacted in 1955, but major revisions in 1970 reflected growing environmental consciousness and established the government’s authority to set air standards nationwide and require the use of technology to improve air quality. CAA details…

Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act protects both animals and their habitats when they are in danger of extinction. Regulating habitats sometimes has significant effects on industries in the area, including agriculture and forestry. The early 1970s saw enactment of a number of major environmental laws that today form the backbone of U.S. federal efforts to safeguard the natural world. Among these, in 1973, was the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under the ESA, the government regulates both the taking of plants and animals whose numbers are diminishing dangerously, and the permissible uses of their habitats. ESA details…

Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) protects human health and the environment by establishing a comprehensive regulatory system to govern the use of pesticides in agriculture. Under FIFRA’s basic structure, chemical manufacturers are required to prove the safety of pesticides and other chemicals before they can sell them. Although states are able to place further restrictions on pesticides (and some do), FIFRA establishes a common framework for the entire nation. FIFRA details…

The Lacey Act

The Lacey Act combats trafficking in “illegal” wildlife, fish, and plants, including wood products. The Lacey Act was first enacted in 1900 to combat the impact of poaching, interstate shipment of unlawfully killed game, and killing of birds for feather trade. The Act was amended in 2008 to include products, including timber, derived from illegally harvested plants. The Act also created new declaration requirements for importing wood products. The primary reasons for the 2008 amendments were to reduce illegal logging and other illegal plant trade globally while expanding worldwide conservation and to increase the value of U.S. wood exports. Lacey Act details…