The Environmental Protection Act Summary

The Environmental Protection Act (EPA) was founded in 1970. Their main purpose is to protect human health and the environment. They work towards a cleaner and healthier environment for the American people. The EPA develops and enforces environmental laws enacted by Congress. They are responsible for researching and setting national standards for all states and tribes. The EPA can issue sanctions and take other steps to assist the states and tribes in reaching desired levels of environmental quality.

The Agency works to assess environmental conditions and to identify, understand, and solve current and future environmental problems. (EPA website) Thus, one area the EPA covers is the prevention of water contamination. The Clean Water Act of 1972 exclusively protects the surface water quality. The act does not deal directly with ground water or with water quality issues. The Clean water act employs a variety of regulatory and non-regulatory tools to reduce direct pollutant discharges into waterways, finance municipal wastewater treatment facilities, and manage polluted runoff.

The act has evolved over the years from subjective approach of program-by-program, source-by-source or pollutant-by-pollutant approach to more holistic watershed-based approach. Under the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency works with various federal, state and tribal regulatory partners such as National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) to implement testing and compliance for various industries. When an organization is found to be in violation under the Act, three types of enforcement actions can be taken; Civil, Cleanup and Criminal, can be used.

The Civil Enforcement action deals with the prevention efforts such as returning violators back into compliance and deterring misconduct in others. The Cleanup deals with the sites where there has been a migration or a release, or a threat of release. The Criminal Enforcement action is used against those who in most serious environmental violations or those involved in egregious negligence or conduct involving intention, willful or knowing disregard of the law. (EPA website) The public by no means, is left out. In fact, the public can be informed thru hearings and the right to request information from government and companies thru FOIA.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of 1966 is the principal statute governing public access to Federal government records and information. FOIA has become and essential part of our democratic system. Citizens can use this act of find out about their governments operation and activities. FOIA recognizes the importance of safeguarding national security, enhancing law enforcement, respecting business confidentiality, protecting internal agency deliberations and common law privileges and preserving personal privacy.

There are nine restrictions to the act that the public can not view; they are materials related to national security, defense or foreign policy, records related solely to the internal personnel rules of an agency, records that are specifically exempted from disclosure by statute, trade secrets and commercial or financial information, internal deliberative material, personnel or medical files the disclosure of which would cause a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, law enforcement records, records related to financial institutions, and geological data (Nichols 2005).

There are millions of FOIA requests filed to the Executive branch every year. In any toxic tort allegation a person claims to have suffered personal injury because of exposure to one or more chemical substances. The main question in the case will be if the plaintiff's disease occurred because of his or her exposure to the chemical. Both sides would have to rely on toxicological evidence to prove their case.

The science of toxicology is an attempt to understand whether, how and at what doses various chemical or physical agents produce certain effects in other organisms (Karmel 2004). While the environment is an area that can raise the emotions of communities and stakeholders, there are others. Business issues and regulation governing human rights and animal rights are often fueled by emotion. Emotions themselves, such as fear and anger, play a big role in effecting regulation on industries such as tobacco.