In California, environmental law is an important area of concern in real estate, development, industrial practice, and many other aspects of life. It stems from a growing awareness of the importance of environmental resources as well as an appreciation for their beauty.
Many of the foundational aspects of environmental law are decades old, but perhaps not as old as some people think. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, dates back to 1970, the same year that Congress passed the Clean Air Act. Other laws, such as the Toxic Substances Control Act, Clean Water Act, and Oil Pollution Act came in the following decade. Each of these laws empowered the EPA, Congress, local governments, and other entities to take on a different environmental problem. For the most part, these issues are in much better shape now than when the laws were passed, but large-scale environmental issues still remain a major concern.
Legal cases before the Supreme Court can shrink or change how the EPA and other regulators can control pollution and other sources of environmental damage. That may require Congress to pass new laws to oversee the environment. Congress also needs to adapt to new issues, like disposing of the waste from old computers or electric car batteries. There is no final goal for environmental protection law– it is an ongoing project.
The government has to come to a balance that permits reasonable use of the land and its resources without jeopardizing the health and safety of the citizens who live on it, or threatening the future viability of the environment as a whole.