Environmental Framework in the USA
Congress passes medium specific environmental law or statute that sets
overall goals for policy development. Primary goals typically focus on
human health with secondary goals related to other environmental objectives
such as aesthetics, ecology, recreation, and agriculture. Laws typically
address local environmental problems (some regional).
· Federal agency (typically EPA) authorized to implement that law
by developing federal regulations and enforcement strategies that meet
the overall goals.
· Typical regulatory structure:
- Ambient goals set for medium that typically aim to reduce risk as much
as possible in the overall environment (typically for a watershed or an
air quality region).
- Technology-based standards established primarily for industries (and
some consumer products such as cars) that state the pollution control
technology that must be used for wastestreams from each industry.
- Industry-specific permits issued by EPA or state regulator that specify
pollutant limits for each industry site.
- Self-reporting of compliance by industry.
- Enforcement by EPA or state regulator with civil and/or criminal penalties
for non compliance
- Additional requirements may be imposed by each state.
problems with the current framework have been discussed, including:
· controls are primarily on industry and consumers neglected
· standards often outdated
· only as good as enforcement
· no incentive to reduce pollution
· states may have different approaches to regulation
· relationship between goals and standards not clear
· goals often impossible to achieve
· medium specific regulations may encourage transfer of pollutants
from one medium to the next
alternatives to the current regulatory system include:
· Emissions trading
· Multimedia regulations
· Regional permit setting
· Risk-based regulations
· Performance-based regulations