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4 Tutorials that teach Environmental Policy
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Environmental Policy

Environmental Policy

Author: Jensen Morgan

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Source: Earth PD

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Hi. I'm Jensen Morgan. We're going to talk about some great concepts in environmental science. Today's topic is environmental policy. So let's get started. We're going to talk about different levels of government and how they interact with environmental policy, different approaches to environmental policy, federal agencies involved in environmental policy, and NEPA.

The government exists at four main levels. National or federal is made up of states, which is made up of counties, which is made up of cities and townships. Each level has a role in environmental policy in different ways. Before 1970, it was the responsibility of state and local governments to regulate natural resources in their jurisdiction. However, since the 1970s spike in national awareness around environmental issues, regulation of natural resources has shifted into being a federal responsibility with implementation of national policy being taken care of at the state and local levels.

We're going to talk about three different approaches government can take towards environmental policy. The total free market approach leaves regulation in the hands of businesses and industries themselves to manage. This was historically the case for the US. However, since 1970 that has changed. This approach is more common in other countries now.

Free market with some government control is the second approach which strikes a balance between total free market and total government control. Various levels of government employee tactics like emissions, taxes, and tradable permits to regulate industries without taking too much control. And finally, total government control utilizes government at every level to manage and regulate environmental impacts of all kinds. Over the past few decades, the United States has shifted away from the total free market approach towards free market with government control. Certain areas have become regulated at a national level, while others have been given to the free market.

Some important regulating federal agencies to note are the National Institute of Health or the National Institute of Environmental Health and Safety, the Department of Natural Resources, OSHA, or Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the EPA, or Environmental Protection Agency. Each regulates, monitors, and controls different issues, various approaches dependent on the agency's goals.

NEPA, or the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, required federal government to allocate funds and time in order to identify negative effects from human activities on the environment which are unavoidable-- such impacts might be safety, health, aesthetic, or ecological-- consider and assess alternative actions to any federal actions and projects, and identify resources necessary to the project. NEPA does not forbid any actions from being taken, it only requires an assessment of potential impacts be taken and disseminated for public knowledge. NEPA is beneficial because it arms decision makers with adequate knowledge of the impacts of their actions in the hopes that they will make educated decisions instead of discovering significant environmental impacts from actions taken after the fact. It also warns the public of actions and their potential impacts that are being considered by federal government so that the public can monitor and object if necessary.

Now let's have a recap. We talked about environmental policy and how different levels of government interact with it. We talked about three different approaches government can take to environmental policy, different federal agencies in the US currently responsible for environmental regulation, and NEPA, or the National Environmental Policy Act. Well, that's all for this tutorial. I look forward to next time. Bye.