Environmental Laws Timeline by Jessica Barber

Events

National Park Service Act

1916

This act was signed into law under the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. The act aimed at protecting parks by creating a national service to regulate their use and their visitors. This would ensure that parks were being used for the correct and proper uses, as well as ensuring that no animals or plants were being intentionally harmed by visitors or pollution in the park. (Source: https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/history.htm)

Soil Conservation Act

1935

This act was signed into law under the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt during the Great Depression. Prior to it being signed into law, the Dust Bowl had occurred and had thoroughly damaged the land in the midwest. Because farmers had been overproducing their crops and using poor farming techniques, the soil had become very loose and damaged. President Roosevelt signed this act into law in order to relieve farmers of the burden left on them after the Dust Bowl. The act encouraged farmers to plant various types of crops that would ultimately improve the soil quality so that farmers and the land could recover from the aftermath of the Dust Bowl. (Source: http://history.house.gov/Historical-Highlights/1901-1950/Soil-Conservation-in-the-New-Deal-Congress/)

Federal Fungicide, Insecticide, and Rodenticide Act

1947

This act allowed for the increased regulation of the use of pesticides and other like products that control other organisms with chemicals. This act also allowed governmental agencies to check the components of pesticides and inspect them for chemicals and ingredients that are too harmful for the population and the environment. (Source: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/federal-insecticide-fungicide-and-rodenticide-act-fifra-and-federal-facilities)

Clean Air Act

1955

This act called for the use of governmental funds for the research of air pollution and the causes of it. It did not, however, place regulations on companies and factories; it only allowed for research of the causes and effects of air pollution to be conducted. (Source: https://www.epa.gov/clean-air-act-overview/evolution-clean-air-act)

Fish and Wildlife Act

1956

This act allows citizens to hunt and fish recreationally, as long as prey is taken in safe amounts in order to reduce the risk of overharvesting and extinction. This includes hunting seasons and other fishing limits in various places around the nation. (Source: https://www.fws.gov/laws/lawsdigest/fwact.html)

Price-Anderson Act

1957

This act allowed for workers in nuclear power plants to have increased insurance in the case of injury in the event of an emergency or reactor accident. The act also allows for residents and companies that are located nearby nuclear reactors to be insured if an accident were to occur and cause damages. (Source: http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/nuclear-insurance.pdf)

Wilderness Act

1964

This act created designated areas of land to be left undeveloped, unchanged, and protected under law. These areas of land were designated so that the population may interact with them; however, the population may to attempt to alter these areas, and everyone must try his or her best to leave the land as it is. (Sources: http://wilderness.nps.gov/faqnew.cfm)

Water Quality Act

1965

This act called for states to create local water quality regulations in order to attempt to control and increase the quality of both drinking water and outdoor water sources. The legislative branch deemed it necessary to attempt to control these things due to the fact that many bodies of water cross state borders, and they sought to reduce the harmful effects of too much pollution crossing over state lines. (Source: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/energy-government-and-defense-magazines/water-quality-act-1965)

Land and Water Conservation Act

1965

The Land and Water Conservation Act was created in order to encourage the conservation of national land and water sources. The act called for the creation of a fund that would draw profits from oil rigs across the country in order to protect various areas of land and bodies of water. (Source: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/lwcf/index.htm)

Water Resources Planning Act

1965

This act called for increased focus on bodies of water such as dams and river basins. Its goal was to reduce the catastrophic effects of floods and rising waters on surrounding areas. The act also aimed at increasing the economic benefits of constructing dams and other irrigation-controlling structures. (Source: https://www.nap.edu/read/10973/chapter/4#20)

Species Conservation Act

1966

This act allowed the government to take and safehold areas of land that were home to endangered terrestrial and aquatic species. This aimed to protect their habitats as a way to conserve their numbers and the overall biodiversity of the nation's land and water sources. (Source: https://www.fws.gov/endangered/laws-policies/timeline.html)

Freedom of Information Act

1966

This act allows citizens to have knowledge of actions taken by the government. Citizens may request access to information that is being held by the government, etc. This pertains to environmental science in the way that citizens have the right to know the amounts of pollutants, toxic materials, etc. in household items, drinking water, and other like things. (Source: https://www.foia.gov/about.html)

National Trails Systems Act

1968

This act was created in order to establish trail systems for the enjoyment of the public near urban and rural areas. This would create a more unified feeling with nature and would encourage the population to venture outdoors during their free time. The federal trails would also increase safety in the wilderness and aim to attract more visitors to parks and other wilderness areas. (Sources: https://www.nps.gov/nts/legislation.html)

National Environmental Policy Act

1969

This act calls for the consideration of the effects on the environment that any governmental action would cause. This act placed the environment before the construction of large governmental buildings and structures. (Source: https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-national-environmental-policy-act)

Clean Water Act

1972

This act called for the implementation of several pollution-controlling services and regulations; it also caused there to be regulations and limitations on the amount of contamination levels in water sources across the country. The act has made legal limitations on companies and people who are allowed to put known contaminants in water sources, etc. (Source: https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-clean-water-act)

Marine Mammal Protection Act

1972

This act aimed at limiting interaction between humans and marine animals by outlawing the intentional hunting, trapping, etc. of marine animals in their natural habitats. The goal of the act is to increase and maintain marine biodiversity by implementing legal consequences of harming and/or interacting with the animals. The act also aims to limit the animals' dependency on humans by making it illegal to feed them in their natural habitats no matter what the circumstances are. (Source: http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/what-we-do/rescue/marine-mammal-protection-act.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/)

Endangered Species Act

1973

This act aimed at protecting and preventing the extinction of the various endangered species around the world. The act called for the prohibition of hunting such animals, the conservation of their habitats, and the banning of interacting and developing the land (or areas of water) in which their habitats are located. The signing of this act also led to the creation of a worldwide endangered species list, and this list is used in worldwide research and protection projects. (Source: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/laws/esa/)

Safe Drinking Water Act

1974

This act aimed and improving the quality of all water that is designated for public consumption. The act gave the government the power to conduct inspections for both above- and underground water sources, and this helped the public in the way that the drinking water had to pass certain tests and requirements in order to be deemed "healthy" enough for the public. Public drinking water does not have very harmful elements or particles in it, and people can know that their drinking water is safe and drinkable. (Source: https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-safe-drinking-water-act)

Renewable Resources Planning Act

1974

This act aims at recognizing the fact that nonrenewable resources will not be available forever. This act placed focus on the true discussion of the use of renewable and nonrenewable resources, and it states that such discussions must be held constantly in order to determine the amount of renewable resources that the nation holds and uses. The act also focuses on global climate change tendencies and the wellbeing of the nation's forests. (Source: http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/fia/topics/rpa/)

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

1975

This act, also known as CITES, was created in order to prevent the trade of exotic animals and plants. It was created in order to protect animals and plants from being excessively hunted and/or harmed in order to be traded or have their body parts traded across the world. This increases and maintains biodiversity in their homelands and protects them from being nearly completely eradicated from their habitats. (Source: https://www.cites.org/eng/disc/what.php)

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

1976

This act focused on the entrance of hazardous waste into the environment. It set goals to prevent the excessive entrance of such waste by placing harsher regulations on the waste industry, and it also focuses on conserving energy by lessening the amount of waste produced by commercial and residential entities. (Source: https://www.epa.gov/history/epa-history-resource-conservation-and-recovery-act)

Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act

1976

This act has the goal of recognizing the fact that the nation's needs for energy change in intervals. It stated that Congress had to hold discussions about the nation's use of the renewable resources that are available. Other goals include ensuring that private land owners are contacted prior to the development of the land and that the land is used in an efficient and respectful manner. (Source: https://www.wilderness.net/NWPS/documents/FS/FRRRPA.pdf)

Federal Land Policy and Management Act

1976

This act focused on the creation and implementation of development techniques that retain the most amount of land as possible. The goal of this act was to make sure that public lands use the space provided in a respectful, useful, and efficient manner. The act was also created in order to maintain the land's natural beauty and placing the environment above the development of the land. (Source: http://www.colorado.edu/AmStudies/lewis/west/flpma.htm)

National Forest Management Act

1976

The act had the goal of ensuring that preexisting forests were well controlled and properly maintined. For both new and older forest areas, it aimed to ensure that the renewable resources on those properties were being used in efficient ways. It also focused on the prevention of the overharvesting of these resources, and it aimed to prevent the complete depletion of those resources. (Source: http://www.thecre.com/fedlaw/legal14/nfma.htm)

Soil and Water Conservation Act

1977

The goal of this act was to implement new strategies of determining the quality of soil and water sources in a way that measures their ability to provide for future needs. The act was created in order to make sure that the current soil and water sources are being used efficiently and that they will not be depleted. The act has led to new techniques of soil and water use in both commercial, urban, rural, and private residences. (Source: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/technical/nra/rca/)

Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act

1977

This act had the goal of implementing new techniques for old, abandoned coal mines. Prior to the act, many mines had been leaking hazardous materials into the environment; with the passing of this act, these mines now had to be taken care of in a manner that prevented the leakage of those materials in order to increase public safety. The act also had the goal of recognizing and regulating the problems associating with mining coal. (Source: www.osmre.gov/lrg.shtm)

Energy Tax Act

1978

This act had the goal of encouraging the conservation of energy and gas in the public. The act offered incentives for people who conserve energy in efficient ways, and it also includes extra taxes for people who do not choose to attempt to conserve energy. The extra taxes apply to people whose vehicles do not meet certain MPG regulations, and the incentives are for people who actively use at-home renewable energy sources such as solar energy. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_Tax_Act)

Arctic Conservation Act

1978

This act had the goal of conserving and protecting the wildlife that resides in the Arctic. The act created permits and legal limits for how many prey can be taken in these areas, and this aimed to protect and maintain the Arctic's biodiversity. The act states that only people with legitimate scientific research and proper permits may interact with the wildlife. (Sources: https://www.nsf.gov/geo/plr/antarct/aca/aca.jsp)

Low Level Radioactive Policy Act

1980

This act stated that each state was required to dispose of its low-level radioactive waste within its state boundaries. It also stated that the waste had to be of a radioactive level that is not too harmful for the public. The act created "host" sites in several states so that the radioactive waste could be placed in safe places until it was not as dangerous. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-level_radioactive_waste_policy_of_the_United_States)

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act

1980

This act had the goal of creating legal restrictions on various fish and other animal species. The act deemed them "nongame," and prohibited the hunting them while also creating consequences for failing to follow the regulations. The act also created a fund for states in order for them to develop programs that would enable them to carry out the laws within the act. (Source: https://www.fws.gov/laws/lawsdigest/FWCON.HTML)

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act

1980

The act had the goal of creating and maintaining a federal fund that would provide the government with adequate funds to clean up and deal with abandoned hazardous materials. The fund is also used to help in accidents that cannot be contained by the given parent company, and the fund was ultimately created in order to aid smaller companies and to increase public safety and wellbeing. (Source: https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-comprehensive-environmental-response-compensation-and-liability-act)

Nuclear Waste Policy Act

1982

The act had the goal of setting up a legal system of surveying land areas that would be used for drilling and storing hazardous radioactive waste in them. The act was created in order to make sure that the radioactive waste would not cause health hazards for the public once is disposed of. The act created a series of steps that surveyors must use and refer to when they are working to determine if an area of land is adequate enough to store nuclear waste in. (Source: https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-nuclear-waste-policy-act)

International Environmental Protection Act

1983

This act was created in order to do thins such as give the President the power to meet with and help other countries in their efforts to carry out programs that are aimed at preserving biodiversity and helping their environment. The act had the goal of improving and maintaining the world's biodiversity while also improving relations with foreign countries. (Source: https://www.fws.gov/laws/lawsdigest/interep.html)

Food Security Act

1985

The act is aimed at preventing wetlands from being converted into farmlands. This is in order to protect the wildlife that lives in the wetlands while also attemping to protect further inland areas of land. Because wetlands lessen the effects of erosion in places such as coastal areas, the eradication of them would undoubtedly have poor effects on nearby land. Therefore, this act was passed in order to prevent such situations. (Source: http://www.thecre.com/fedlaw/legal17/food_security_act_of_1985_legal_matters.htm)

Emergency Wetlands Resources Act

1986

This act had the purpose of encouraging the preservation of wetlands across the nation. This act was brought about mainly by public interest and for scientific organizations that place much focus on birds and other like animals that migrate. The act let the government purchase wetland areas in order to place them under development bans so that they could be conserved. (Source: https://naturalresourceslaw.uslegal.com/wildlife-conservation/ewra/)

Montreal Protocol

1987

This act was created in order to limit the entrance of ozone-depleting materials and pollutants into the atmosphere. The act had the goal of improving local air supplies while also attempting to prevent the ozone hole in the atmosphere from getting any bigger. The act banned and restricted certain chemicals from being produced and incorporated into certain consumer products and aimed at eradicating the use of known ozone-depleting chemicals and materials. (Source: http://ozone.unep.org/en/treaties-and-decisions/montreal-protocol-substances-deplete-ozone-layer)

Ocean Dumping Ban Act

1988

This act had the goal of aiming to ban all dumping of sewage waste into offshore ocean waters. The act was created in order to reduce the amount of waste that enters the ocean waters in order to protect the habitats of marine animals and other organisms that depend on the ocean. In New York especially, many waste companies had been dumping their waste in offshore waters, and this helped to lead the public to begin to take action against such waste removal techniques. (Source: http://www.pollutionissues.com/Na-Ph/Ocean-Dumping-Ban-Act.html)

Madrid Protocol

1989

This protocol states that the resources in Antarctica may not be used except for scientific research by legitimate and certified researchers. It states that Antarctica may be used as a global source of research and that all information that is found in Antarctica must be shared with other researchers around the world. It prohibits the claiming of permanent research property, and its goal is to promote worldwide cooperation with scientific findings in Antarctica. (Source: http://www.ats.aq/e/ep.htm)

Waste Reduction Act

1990

This act was focused on techniques that attempted to reduce the amount of solid waste that is produced nationwide. The act called for governmental figures with much authority to research and implement new manners of production and consumption that lessen the amount of waste that is introduced each year. It also called for the attempt of labeling companies to properly label recyclable materials and products so that they may be prevented from becoming useless waste. (Source: https://www.congress.gov/bill/101st-congress/house-bill/1804)

Environmental Education Act

1990

The act had the purpose of getting the government to begin working on improving educational techniques as a way to improve public knowledge of the environment and how to safekeep its wellbeing. The act called for a report to be submitted to Congress on how the government planned to implement new education topics and teachings for the public in an attempt to encourage public action and liking towards the environment. (Source: https://www.fws.gov/laws/lawsdigest/enveduc.html)

Pollution Prevention Act

1990

This act focused on reducing the amount of pollution that enters the environment due to production and consumption by commercial businesses and private residents. The act had the goal of reducing the amount of pollutants in the environment by refining production techniques and ensuring that extra chemicals and by-products are properly disposed of and removed from the environment. (Source: https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-pollution-prevention-act)

Lacey Act

1990

The act focuses on the trade and sell of illegally obtained or hunted wildlife. It is aimed at improving and maintaining both domestic and foreign biodiversity, and it states that it is illegal to buy or sell exotic animals from blackmarket or commercial wildlife traders. This protects exotic animals buy lessening the market for them, and it protects domestic animals by eliminating the introduction of foreign species that could possibly become invasive. (Source: https://www.fws.gov/International/laws-treaties-agreements/us-conservation-laws/lacey-act.html)

California Desert Protection Act

1994

The purpose of this act was to recognize the Californian desert areas as wildlife areas. The act officially created the Death Valley National Park, the Joshua Tree National Park, and the Mojave National Preserve; the act also created designated Native American reserve areas. The goal of this act was to protect the desert lands of California while also protecting all of the wildlife that lives there. (Source: https://www.nps.gov/jotr/learn/management/caldesprotect.htm)

Food Quality Protection Act

1996

This act was focused on the use of pesticides in commerical and private residential areas. It updated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act of 1947, and its goal was to implement new safety measures for the use of such pesticides. The new measures focused on the increased safety of children, the longevity of the use of certain chemicals, and preventing the exposure of the pesticides and chemicals to local drinking water (and air where many children and other sensitive people are). (Source: https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-food-quality-protection-act)

Kyoto Protocol

1997

The protocol focused on the production of greenhouse emissions in nations around the world. The act created an agreement in which industrialized countries agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The protocol called for the regulation of greenhouse gases and attempted to reduce them in order to decrease global warming's effects on the environment so that worldwide living conditions and biodiversity could ultimately be saved. (Source: http://www.kyotoprotocol.com/)