Environmental laws pertain to:
- Environmental impact
- Air and water quality
- Waste management
- Containment and/or cleanup
- Chemical safety
- Water, mineral, and forest resources
- Wildlife and plants
- Fish and game
Violation of these laws affect people and the natural environment in a negative manner. When a person or resource is affected by unlawful activity, a lawsuit can be filed against the perpetrator to stop the behavior and/or collect compensation for damages caused by the actions.
What are Some Examples of Environmental Lawsuits?
There are many different reasons legal action might be taken against an individual, business, or other entity regarding the environment.
For instance, if a company is caught dumping toxic waste or does something that causes a chemical spill, they can face legal action.
Other reasons for environmental lawsuits include:
- Unauthorized fracking
- Wetland destruction
- Misusing natural resources
- Harming wildlife
- Round Up Weed Killer
- Violating Native American rights
Conservation is one reason for environmental laws, but the goal is also to maintain an environment that is safe for people and wildlife.
How Do Environmental Laws Affect Individuals?
Many environmental laws were put in place in the 1960s when the effects of industrialization began to show.
There was an increase in reports of birth defects and many people were concerned about air pollution, exposure to toxic waste and other hazardous materials, and landslides caused by deforestation and rock blasting.
In most cases, environmental lawsuits are filed by people who have been injured by violations of the laws. They might have been exposed to a dangerous chemical or other material, or there might be evidence that exposure occurred in the past.
The laws governing the environment tend to be complicated, as these assets impact more than just the jurisdictions in which they are located. For instance, water, oil, air, and forest and coastlands are often the subject of disputes between private citizens, local communities, special interest groups, and the federal government. All of these entities can be affected by violations of the laws and often have a stake in environmental lawsuits.
Most people agree the sooner an environmental issue is identified and efforts are made to stop the behavior the better.
The effects of pollutants and chemical exposure might not be obvious for many years, and the sooner things are corrected the less damage will occur.
What Should I Do If I Suspect an Environmental Law Violation?
If you believe there is an emergency regarding hazardous materials or chemicals or any other issue that could pose immediate physical harm to anyone, you should contact the proper emergency authorities in your area.
It is appropriate to call 911 if you believe there is an immediate danger.
If an issue is ongoing or you know of a violation that poses no immediate emergency, you can file a report with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This can be done through their website or by contacting them by phone.
You can file a report anonymously, but the EPA prefers to have your contact information so it can follow up if there are any questions about your report. Some people prefer to file their report anonymously because they are reporting their employer, but it should be noted that whistleblower protections would apply and would provide protection from retaliation.
The EPA’s online report can be found <a href = “https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/report-environmental-violations”>here.</a>
Class action lawsuits are also common when it comes to environmental laws. In most instances, violations of these laws affect many people – sometimes entire communities. It’s easier for the victims and the court system to deal with issues as a group and provide them with relief at the same time.
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