The Clean Water Act, is an example of a well-known and prominent environmental law. The Clean Water Act assures the quality of our water supply, and additionally preventing the tampering with, or pollution and contamination of it.
The contamination can include individuals dumping chemicals into the water, as well as certain structures of a property that can contribute to the pollution of a nearby water source. Depending on the severity of the infraction, strict fines can be imposed on people or businesses for their contamination of a water supply.
Another common environmental protection law is the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act. The CERCLA, which is enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency, was passed in 1980 and deals with problems relating to closed or abandoned hazardous waste properties/sites. This act directly can impose a liability on different parties coming into contact with hazardous waste and their dealing of it. These parties can be companies that deal with the production of hazardous waste, to people who transport, or dispose of it.
As a result of their direct contact with the waste during any given phase of its existence, these are the people who can be held responsible in case of a spill or improper disposal or use of the waste. If a person or group of persons is found liable for any of these actions with hazardous waste they will face serious implications. These can include heavy fines, as well as lawsuits from any possible people that were harmed in result of their actions.
Also, the person(s) will be responsible for the proper cleanup of the mishap or site, whether through their own means, if fitting under EPA standards, or by hiring an outside company specializing in that type of cleanup. Those held liable will be responsible for the entire cost of the cleanup and safe removal/disposal of the hazardous waste.
Aside from federal laws, there are state laws that regulate certain types of products that may come in contact with the environment as well. For example, certain state laws oversee the use of underground storage tanks containing petroleum or petroleum products.
These laws state a specific type of storage type that must be used, and what components it can be made of to store such liquids. Should an unfortunate leak happen with the tank, these state laws bring forth liability to the owner of that tank. Leaks can contaminate the soil on the property as well as ground water, and through rainfall, can travel to other areas spreading the contamination. Those held liable, aside from suffering a great deal of penalties, will also be responsible for the proper cleanup of such sites.
On a residential level, there is a concern for home owners purchasing houses that contain lead-based or radon-based paints. If directly contacted, these are both potentially harmful substances to a person’s health. This is why a home owner is told to report the levels of such contaminants in the house prior to sale.
The laws that are set by the government (both federal and local) are meant to not only protect the environment, but also the health of people in and around the areas prone to contamination. Environmental protection laws are focused on creating a safer existing environment for everyone, as well as cleaning up areas that were harmed in the past.