Theodore Roosevelt was recognized in his time as a lover of nature. He started the United States Forest Service and established over 150 national parks and wildlife conservation areas. These would be the United States’ first federal policies for environmental protection. There are now over 400 national parks and nearly 7,000 state parks.
The government has also created regulations that protect the environment from pollution. To learn more, take a look at these important laws that protect the environment.
Clean Air Act
The Clean Air Act, a federal law enacted in 1970, was put in place to safeguard people and the planet from pollutants that contaminate the air. As part of this law, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) develops national air quality standards, and states are responsible for ensuring that their residents comply with these criteria. Air pollution management measures are required to be implemented in “nonattainment areas,” which refers to areas that are exceeding safe pollution levels. In addition, the EPA looks for ways to keep clean air uncontaminated, save the ozone layer, and reduce environmental pollution.
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), enacted in 1976, is the federal law that governs the treatment of both hazardous and non-hazardous waste. The act identifies and defines solid and hazardous waste; permits the EPA to set standards for hazardous waste-generating and waste-managing facilities; sets up a permit program for hazardous waste storage and disposal facilities; and gives the EPA the authority to set requirements for municipal solid waste disposal facilities.
Clean Water Act
The government set limits on water pollution in the US with the Clean Water Act, or Federal Water Pollution Control Act. The first iteration of the legislation was first introduced in 1948, and the changes in 1972 significantly altered the way the law functioned. The original 1972 bill laid out a detailed framework for how to improve water quality, and the industry and municipalities subsequently implemented this framework and improved on it. The statute was updated twice: first in 1981, and then again in 1987. Because of the effects that water pollution can have on so many different species, this is one of the most important laws that protect the environment.