Environmental Policy: is “A Statement by the organization [public or private] of its intentions and principles in relation to its overall environmental performance, which provides a framework for setting of its environmental objectives and target.
a) The US congress through the EPA has adopted the Environmental Policy Act
b) Principles of the Environmental Policy Development:
The Precautionary Principle
The Polluter-pays Principle
Let’s review these principles;
I. The Precautionary Principle:
The precautionary principle states that if an action or policy has suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of a scientific consensus that harm would not ensue, the burden of proof falls on those who would advocate taking the action. Effectively, this principle allows policy makers to make discretionary decisions in situations where there is evidence of potential harm in the absence of complete scientific proof. The principle implies that there is a responsibility to intervene and protect the public from exposure to harm where scientific investigation discovers a plausible risk in the course of having screened for other suspected causes. The protections that mitigate suspected risks can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that more robustly support an alternative explanation. In some legal systems, as in the law of the European Union, the application of the precautionary principle has been made a statutory requirement.
II. Environmental Justice:
We have discussed the concept of environmental justice several times in class without specifically defining the term. While there are several working definitions of Environmental justice (EJ) they all refers to an equitable spatial distribution of burdens and benefits to groups such as racial minorities, residents of economically disadvantaged areas, or residents of developing nations. Environmental justice proponents generally view the environment as encompassing "where we live, work, and play" (sometimes "pray" and "learn" are also included) and seek to redress inequitable distributions of environmental burdens (pollution, industrial facilities, crime, etc.) and equitably distribute access to environmental goods such as nutritious food, clean air and water, parks, recreation, health care, education, transportation, safe jobs, etc. Self-determination and participation in decision-making are key components of environmental justice. According to a compilation of thoughts by several notable EJ organizations, root causes of environmental injustices include "institutionalized racism; the commodification of land, water, energy and air; unresponsive, unaccountable government policies and regulation; and lack of resources and power in affected communities".
The United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Environmental Justice defines EJ as follows: "Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across this Nation. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work."
III. Environmental Sustainability:
Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans it is the potential for long-term maintenance of wellbeing, which in turn depends on the wellbeing of the natural world and the responsible use of natural resources. Environmental sustainability means that resources should not be depleted faster than they can be regenerated. The goal then is to develop a strong, just and wealthy society that protects and enhances an