There are numerous different federal and state environmental laws that have been enacted through legislative action in addition to governmental agency actions. Several federal agencies, including the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been authorized by Congress to inspect and enforce environmental regulations and laws.
Environmental laws, specifically, refer to the regulations and laws that govern:
- Natural resources;
- Animal rights; and
- Environmental conservation.
Environmental laws used to be largely based on nuisance principles. For example, regulations that address obnoxious smells that come from contaminated water or land.
Environmental regulations and laws are now designed to protect the environment and to preserve the environment for the future without interfering with commerce and business. Inducements and regulations are used to carry out these policies under United States laws.
Inducements are negative or positive motivations that are intended to influence individuals and groups of individuals in carrying out environmental policies.
What Are the Most Significant Environmental Regulations?
Governmental regulations are the rules that govern how environmental policies are addressed. The most prominent environmental regulations are those provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Congress has authorized the EPA to write regulations that outline the details and procedures that can not be included in the laws. There are also other agencies that regulate specific activities.
One example of this is how the United States Forest Service manages national forests. Environmental laws are laws that regulate public and business use.
The definitive concerns of environmental laws include:
- Air quality;
- Water quality;
- Waste management;
- Contaminant cleanup;
- Chemical safety; and
- Hunting and fishing.
Although many of these involve businesses, hunting and fishing issues involve consumers. However, there can be overlap in these laws, such as when a dam is built on conservation or hunting lands or a dam is placed on a body of water that would impact fish migration.
What Are Environmental Violations?
Conditions or activities that violate environmental regulations or laws are referred to as environmental violations. Examples of environmental violations may include, but may not be limited to:
- Illegal hazardous waste dumping;
- Illegal pesticide use;
- Burning garbage;
- Improperly disposing of and removing asbestos;
- Destruction of wetlands;
- Unpermitted industrial activity;
- Releasing particulates into the air; and
- Illegal automobile emissions.
What Is Environmental Contamination?
Environmental contamination is the introduction of toxic waste, chemicals, or substances into the environment in a quantity that causes damage to the environment. Chemical spills and oil spills are examples of environmental emergencies.
This may include contamination that is not considered generally toxic, such as salt. For example, if salt is poured onto an individual’s property, it may render it unusable for farming.
This may last hundreds of years and cannot be removed. In this example, the contamination would be so severe that the land cannot be recovered, rendering it useless.
Land that has been contaminated by an environmental violation is considered contaminated property or a contaminated site. Examples of contaminated sites may include:
- Mineral extractions;
- Accidental spills;
- Illegal dumping;
- Waste disposal;
- Pesticide use;
- Fertilizer applications;
- National defense activities; and
- Acts of nature, such as hurricanes.
The EPA is responsible for monitoring contaminated sites across the United States and oversees their cleanup. An environmental violation is a civil issue.
This means that it will be enforced through a civil lawsuit and not a criminal proceeding. Typically, an environmental violation results in a monetary penalty.
It is important to note, however, that extreme environmental violations may result in criminal charges. There are many agencies that enforce environmental law violations.
These agencies hold administrative hearings to make determinations regarding matters of environmental violations. The local government or EPA may require an individual to present evidence and environmental reports.
An individual or business should also prepare to begin the cleanup process if they are found liable for contamination or a violation. Further concealment of these types of violations will only result in more serious consequences and criminal penalties.
What Are Automobile Emissions?
Automobile emissions is air pollution that is caused by motor vehicles, especially those with internal combustion engines. The main pollutant of concern is hydrocarbons.
Hydrocarbons are a class of burned and partially burned fuel. These are the major contributing factors to smog.
If an individual has prolonged exposure to hydrocarbons, it may lead to:
- Lung disease;
- Liver disease; and
Automobile emissions can also produce:
- Carbon dioxide;
- Carbon monoxide;
- Lead; and
- Nitrogen oxide.
All of these release air pollutants that may cause environmental harm as well as respiratory problems.
Are There Regulations on Automobile Emissions?
Yes, there are regulations on automobile emissions. As noted above, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) manages the emission standards in the U.S.
Emission standards are legal requirements that govern air pollutants that are released into the earth’s atmosphere. For more information regarding issues related to these issues, see the following LegalMatch articles:
What Regulations Govern Automobile Emissions?
There are numerous federal regulations under environmental laws that govern automobile emissions. These are, in general, separated into two different categories, on road vehicles and engines and non-road vehicles and engines.
Automobile emissions would be categorized as on road vehicles. In the United States, the Clean Air Act is the federal law that controls air pollution.
This Act was passed in 1963 and was amended in 1970 and 1990. In addition to other things, it authorizes the EPA to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) that protect public health and public welfare by regulating emissions of hazardous air pollutants.
Under the Clean Air Act, if a vehicle was manufactured in 1996 or later, it has to have its emissions checked with an onboard diagnostics test. Vehicles that fail the emission tests must undergo repairs to bring them in compliance with federal emissions standards.
There are certain states, such as California, that have even stricter standards. California requires a biennial smog inspection in order to renew registration.
A smog inspection determines whether or not a vehicle has excess emissions. Only a vehicle that does not have excess emissions or that have emissions that are properly repaired will have their registration renewed.
What Happens if I Violate Auto Emission Standards?
The penalties for an environmental violation of emission standards will vary by state. In general, if an individual fails to have their vehicle inspected or drives a vehicle that did not pass inspection may face:
- Hefty fines;
- Points on the driving record;
- License suspension, or
- Registration suspension.
If a service state does not adhere to emissions requirements, it may also face penalties, typically in the form of fines.
Should I Seek Legal Counsel for My Automobile Emission Problem?
If you have an issue, question, or concern related to automobile emissions requirements, it is important to consult with a traffic violation lawyer in your area. Your lawyer can explain the environmental laws of your state and how they affect you and your vehicle.
If you are a citizen or a business that is interested in advice related to an environmental issue, it is important to consult with an attorney before an issue arises that may cause you to face civil penalties, criminal penalties, or traffic issues.
LegalMatch can help you find the right traffic violation lawyer for all of your needs.