Environmental Law Overview and Information
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was passed in 1970 along with the Environmental Quality Improvement Act, the Environmental Education Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The main objective of these federal enactments was to assure that the environment be protected against both public and private actions that have resulted in costs or harms inflicted on the ecosystem.
The EPA was created to monitor and analyze the environment, conduct research, and work closely with state and local governments to devise pollution control policies. NEPA has been described as one of Congress's most extensive pieces of environmental legislation ever passed. The basic purpose of NEPA is to force governmental agencies to evaluate the impact of their decisions on the environment.
State laws also similarly provide for actions in nuisance to allow adversely affected property owners to seek a judicial remedy for environmental harms.
Some of the areas litigated under environmental laws include groundwater and drinking water contamination, Brownfields (the redevelopment of contaminated properties), Superfund cases, permitting and compliance matters (including governmental agency challenges), hazardous substance discharges, wetlands, CAFRA, regulatory "takings" matters, and toxic torts.
Attorneys who practice in the area of environmental law handle matters such as regulatory compliance and permitting, representation during civil or criminal enforcement actions, counseling on air and water quality regulations, toxic tort litigation, etc. Some of the issues handled also include emissions trading by manufacturers and "sick building syndrome" claims, among others.