Consumer and Environmental Protection

Overview

Description

The government plays an important role in protecting people from consumer fraud and pollution, including imposing penalties on polluters and other offenders related to consumer protection and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The federal government created the Federal Trade Commission to oversee consumer protection. Federal laws require specific information to be available to consumers when they are making decisions in the marketplace. The federal government also created the Environmental Protection Agency to create and enforce laws that protect natural resources for the benefit of the public. Environmental laws are broad and can hold a variety of people accountable who are connected to the pollution. For example, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) holds parties that transport hazardous substances and those involved with arranging for the disposal of hazardous waste responsible, even if they are not owners or operators of the premises where the hazardous substances are located.

At A Glance

  • The Federal Trade Commission has primary responsibility to prevent false and misleading advertisements, while states' attorneys general and Better Business Bureaus also help protect consumers.
  • Much of consumer protection is aimed at bringing about disclosure, which requires businesses to provide information that a consumer needs to make informed purchasing decisions.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency's job is to issue regulations to implement the Environmental Protection Act and to enforce it.
  • Environmental law aims to safeguard natural resources for the benefit of the public.
  • Any person may be held legally responsible for pollution if that person has a connection to the source of pollution. This includes owners, generators, lessees, and transporters.