Environmental law is a branch of law that deals with the preservation of the environment and natural resources. It entails a combination of international treaties, federal and state laws, customary and common laws that must be observed by the citizens. Most of the time, it entails the protection of the environment against different types of pollution, depletion of non-renewable minerals and materials as well as climatic changes that may result from human activities. In most cases, it also involves deliberate action taken by the government and other stakeholders to restore the environment in cases where it has been polluted or destroyed.
The importance of environmental law cannot be overstated. Human beings depend on the environment for their food, water, air and raw materials for different industries. In the event that the environment is not preserved, all these resources can be depleted. Without sufficient food, water and clean air, human life is at threat. Therefore environmental preservation is essential for continuity of the human species. In addition to this, animals also depend on the environment for the food, water and habitat and they would also be threatened in the face of depletion and pollution.
Environmental law in essence establishes the guidelines and frameworks for environmental management which are then used by different agencies in ensuring that all human activities have the minimal impact on the environment. Every individual is expected to allow for time for the government or other regulatory authorities to carry out detailed environmental impact assessment before any construction activities, manufacture and processing of different items can commence. The lack therefore of such assessments are punishable by law. Every firm should have in depth understanding of environmental law to prevent breaches that may result in prosecution. In addition, every firm should involve a specialised environmental law attorney in every major assessment in order to ensure that their interpretation of the law is at par and consequently to facilitate compliance.
Environmental law also establishes the penalties that accrue if the set laws are not adhered to. In most cases, environmental destruction cases are treated as civil cases where penalties and fines are imposed for violations and non-compliance. However, in some cases, flaunting environmental law may qualify as criminal cases. It is also the branch of law that allows the public to participate in decisions on activities that may have impact on the environment. Essentially, it allows the public to hold the government and other regulatory authorities accountable for activities that have a great impact on the environment. In cases where some breaches may escape the eye of the government, these laws allows third parties to defend their environment through prosecution of those responsible for the breach.