NEPA_FullOverview - National Environmental Policy Act:...

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1 National Environmental Policy Act: National Environmental Policy Act: Randall Guensler Professor School of Civil and Environmental Engineering Georgia Institute of Technology September 19, 2007 History of Resource Consumption in History of Resource Consumption in the United States the United States In the 1700s, questions regarding energy and environment were mostly irrelevant to the colonists The US population in 1890 was 4 million distributed across 900,000 square miles of land Exploitation and environmental degradation seemed trivial to colonists Not until 1798 will English economist Thomas Malthus publish his essay on population effects on future living standards (limitations of food supply) Robert Lineberry, 1986
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2 Environmental Law Introduction Environmental Law Introduction Constitution Branches of Government – Legislative – Executive – Judicial Types of Law – Common Law – Statutory Law – Administrative Law Federalism Federalism The federal government is a body with limited powers that are specifically delegated by the Constitution All other powers fall to the states There is no constitutional amendment assuring a clean environment Federal environmental laws are adopted under the following powers granted by the Constitution: – Tax and spend – Enter into treaties – Regulate the use of public land Regulation of interstate commerce
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3 Interstate Commerce Interstate Commerce and Federal Environmental Laws and Federal Environmental Laws Courts have refused to elevate to the constitutional level the right to be protected from unnecessary and unreasonable environmental degradation “The constitution does not provide judicial remedies for every social or economic ill” The Constitution grants Congress the authority to regulate interstate commerce The courts have upheld environmental regulations in cases where although there are some impacts on interstate commerce, the benefits outweigh the effects, and the ordinances are reasonable methods to achieve a legitimate environmental goal Judicial Opinion on Federal Judicial Opinion on Federal Environmental Policy Environmental Policy The Interstate Commerce clause is the primary remedy for the commons dilemma Courts defer to Congress on whether an activity affects interstate commerce If a regulation is necessary to protect interstate commerce from adverse effects, it doesn’t matter if the activity being regulated is a local one No quantitative test appears to be required Three legal tests: does Congress state that there is an impact on interstate commerce, is the law in the public interest, does the law addresses the commerce issue?
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4 Basis of Environmental Law Basis of Environmental Law Constitution State Constitutions Federal Statutes, State Statutes, Local Ordinances Regulations promulgated by federal, state, and local regulatory agencies Court decisions interpreting regulations
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This note was uploaded on 06/07/2009 for the course CEE 4620 taught by Professor Gensler during the Spring '09 term at Georgia Institute of Technology.

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NEPA_FullOverview - National Environmental Policy Act:...

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