- Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by David S. Clark
18 Legal protection of the environment Stephen C. McCaffrey and Rachael E. Salcido* 1 INTRODUCTION The natural environment sustains all life on Earth. It is our life-support system. The field of environmental law has grown substantially over time as citizens and policy makers have recognized the need to safeguard the health of the environment. This legal field relies on multiple scientific fields, such as biology, geology, hydrology, toxicology, as well as social science fields such as public health, to achieve its aims—a healthy, functioning and resilient natural environment. Environmental law is closely related to the fields of both natural resources law and land use law. These fields all focus on human interactions with the natural world. Traditionally the field of environmental law was primarily concerned with the effects of pollution on components of the environment, such as air, water and soil. Natural resources law regulates extraction of raw materials including minerals development, oil and gas, water and forestry, focusing on effects upon the environment—flora and fauna. Land use law focuses on the development of real property for housing and commercial purposes, transportation, energy development and transmission, among other things. Over time, the basic field of environmental law has broadened into several subfields such as toxics regulation, wildlife and biodiversity preservation, ocean and coastal law, and climate change to name only a few. 2 NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW In the United States, the environmental movement of the 1960s and 1970s created a legacy of statutory protections. The National...
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