Environmental laws refers to a collection of Agreements, Treaties, Statutes, Acts of Parliament or National Congress, rules and regulations that are enacted by Federal Governments, government agencies such as municipalities, national organizations as well as Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that aim at regulating activities or interactions of human beings with their surroundings. Environmental laws are formulated to control, monitor and evaluate human acts and their impacts on the environment (Steinway et al. 2011).
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Such laws are usually formed in order to prevent the negative effects that human activities might have on the environment. Environmental laws often target increasing the economic benefits that can be derived from effective and efficient use of the scarce environmental resources (Chatterjee, 2002). A number of environmental laws have been formulated and implemented by the United States Federal Government. For my part, the Pollution Prevention Act is of most interest.
The Pollution Prevention Act: A Description
The Pollution Prevention Act was introduced to control pollution of the environmental. There are various types of environmental pollutions, for instance, water pollution, air pollution, land pollution. These types of pollutions have adverse effects on the environment which would consequently interfere with the wellbeing of human beings and other animals that live in the environment. For example, pollution of water bodies makes water unsuitable for domestic use by human beings as well as unfit for drinking by wild animals. Air pollutions such as emission of industrial gases and smokes can cause infectious diseases like lung cancer, asthma and other cardiovascular problems, thereby interfering with human health.
The Pollution Prevention Act was enacted in 1990, with its main focus being directed towards regulation of human activities that would result into production of waste that would pollute the environment. According to Welch & Hammer, the Pollution Prevention Act lays emphasis on reducing waste product at the source rather than management of the final wastes (2001). This entails proper utilization of environmental resources such as raw materials and minerals. It also focuses on adoption of effective and efficient production techniques that would result into emission of less wastes or pollutants into the environment. The Act was implemented to control pollutions through effective conservation and management of natural resources.
Provisions of the Law
The Pollution Prevention Act contains a number of provisions such as disclosure of information pertaining to environmental pollutants to the general public, prevention or reduction of pollutions at the sources where possible, recycling of non-preventable pollutants, establishment of an environmental enforcement agency, regular submission of reports on toxic releases by manufacturing firms and filing and signing of compliance documents by firms before commencing industrial operations. The Act also advocate for the improvement of data collection and public access to environmental data.
The enactment of the Act was instigated by the need to control the skyrocketing environmental pollution rates. The environment was getting polluted and at very high rate. According to Shen, there were high chances of depletion of economic resources if this rate of pollution was not regulated effectively (2009).
Additionally, the cost of managing wastes became exorbitant. Most of the federal government’s revenues were used in waste management and pollution control, thus there was need to curb pollution.
Economic Impacts of the Law and Its Benefits
The Act was passed in order push firms in manufacturing, mining and other related industries to adopt and implement effective pollution control techniques. After its enactment, considerable savings were realized in federal government’s expenditures. Lots of government revenues that were previously used in pollution control were directed towards development of other sectors of the economy such as education and provision of healthcare services. Moreover, the law helped in effective management of scarce economic resources hence increasing their value.
Other benefits that be directly associated with the law include reduction in health risks and infection that result from pollution, increased revenue to the government from operating licenses and reduced cost in waste management and environmental clean-up activities. Those who did not comply with the requirements of the law were heavily fined. For example, in 2009, the government generated approximately one million dollars form fines. This accounted for nearly two percent of the total revenue earned that year (Anderson, 2010).
In my opinion, this Act has facilitated improvements and conservations of the environment. This is because it has facilitated adoption of effective ways of prevention, control and management of pollution in the environment. Furthermore, there has been recommendable decrease in levels of pollution. This consequently resulted into improved standards of living, cleaner environment, less health risks associated with pollution as well as increased available of economic resources such as land and mineral resources.
In conclusion, the Pollution Prevention Act has helped in overall improvement of our surroundings. The environment has now become a better place to live in.