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Environmental law

Environmental law is a broad topic that includes state and federal statutes and regulations governing air quality, water quality, waste management, cleanup of air, water, and ground contaminants, and chemical safety in plastics, pesticides, and other consumer products. And the state and federal regulation, management, and conservation of natural resources such as forests, minerals, and fish and game often intersect with these environmental law issues.

In Texas, environmental law encompasses a variety of state and federal regulations designed to protect air and water quality, manage waste, and ensure the cleanup of contaminants. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is the primary state agency responsible for enforcing environmental laws related to air quality, water quality, and waste management. Federal laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) set nationwide standards, which are implemented and sometimes expanded upon by state regulations. Additionally, the management and conservation of natural resources, including forests, minerals, and wildlife, are regulated by entities such as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which works in conjunction with federal agencies like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These regulations are designed to ensure sustainable use and protection of natural resources, and they often intersect with broader environmental law issues, such as the impact of pesticides and chemicals on ecosystems. Texas also has specific statutes governing the safety of chemicals in consumer products, aligning with federal standards such as those enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).



Texas Statutes & Rules

Federal Statutes & Rules

Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. §7401 et seq.)
This act is a comprehensive federal law that regulates air emissions from stationary and mobile sources to control air pollution.

The Clean Air Act authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to protect public health and the environment. The act requires states to develop State Implementation Plans (SIPs) to ensure compliance with NAAQS. It also regulates the emission of hazardous air pollutants and has provisions for preventing significant deterioration of air quality in areas with cleaner air than the standards require.

Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. §1251 et seq.)
The Clean Water Act is the primary federal law in the United States governing water pollution.

The objective of the Clean Water Act is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters. The act sets wastewater standards for industry and water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters. It makes it unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters unless a permit is obtained under its provisions.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) (42 U.S.C. §6901 et seq.)
RCRA is the principal federal law governing the disposal of solid waste and hazardous waste.

RCRA gives EPA the authority to control hazardous waste from the 'cradle-to-grave,' including the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. It also sets forth a framework for the management of non-hazardous solid wastes. The amendments to RCRA enable EPA to address environmental problems that could result from underground tanks storing petroleum and other hazardous substances.

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (42 U.S.C. §9601 et seq.)
Commonly known as Superfund, this act provides a federal 'Superfund' to clean up uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous-waste sites as well as accidents, spills, and other emergency releases of pollutants and contaminants into the environment.

CERCLA authorizes the EPA to identify parties responsible for contamination of sites and compel them to clean up the sites. If responsible parties cannot be found, the EPA is authorized to clean up sites using the Superfund. It also established the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to assist in evaluating health risks associated with exposure to hazardous substances.

Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) (15 U.S.C. §2601 et seq.)
TSCA gives EPA the authority to require reporting, record-keeping and testing requirements, and restrictions relating to chemical substances and/or mixtures.

The Toxic Substances Control Act addresses the production, importation, use, and disposal of specific chemicals including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos, radon, and lead-based paint. TSCA was amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which mandates EPA to evaluate existing chemicals with clear and enforceable deadlines, to increase transparency and public participation in the chemical review process.

Endangered Species Act (ESA) (16 U.S.C. §1531 et seq.)
The ESA provides for the conservation of species that are endangered or threatened throughout all or a significant portion of their range, and the conservation of the ecosystems on which they depend.

The Endangered Species Act requires federal agencies to ensure that actions they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat of such species. It also provides a program for the conservation of threatened and endangered plants and animals and the habitats in which they are found.

Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) (43 U.S.C. §1701 et seq.)
FLPMA governs the way in which the public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management are managed.

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act establishes a policy for the management, protection, development, and enhancement of the public lands. It mandates that the Bureau of Land Management take into account the natural, scenic, historical, ecological, environmental, air and atmospheric, water resource, and archaeological values of the public lands when developing land use plans.

Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. §1801 et seq.)
This act is the primary law governing marine fisheries management in U.S. federal waters.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act aims to prevent overfishing, rebuild overfished stocks, increase long-term economic and social benefits, and ensure a safe and sustainable supply of seafood. It established eight regional fishery management councils which develop fishery management plans to manage fishery resources within federal waters.

Federal vs. State Environmental Regulation: An Overview
Navigating the intricacies of environmental regulation can be as daunting as it is essential. Whether you’re starting a business, getting rid of old electronics, or moving to a new state, learning the laws that apply to you can be tricky.