Environment policy may be defined as an approach on various issues regarding the environment from government point of view. Usually, environmental policy is intended to address various concerns and problems facing the environment with the eventual aim of providing a solution. Environmental refers to the external surroundings of a human being. This in essence means that the environment and the environmental policies developed by the government have a direct impact on a human being.
Environmental analysts have always attempted to relate these policies with regard to the environment, their impact on the human being, their contribution or effect to the growth of economy and basically their effect to all that pertains to human beings and their day to day life. More often than not, environmental policies are viewed to be more political oriented. However although the environmental policies have some political connotation they are more concerned on ensuring that business companies and organizations in general operate within the laid down rules, regulations and environmental laws.
Looking at environmental policy from another perspective, it may also be defined as acting or failing to act with the sole view of keeping in check or controlling human activities which if not controlled could result to destruction of the environment, resources and nature in general. The control of human activities also seeks to ensure that the various changes that are occasioned by the environment by the activities of a human being do not later produce harmful effects to other living things including the human being.
These policies are formulated by the government itself or through its agencies. Some of the major concerns that this policy seeks to regulate are pollution to the environment (all types of pollution inclusive) management of waste products especially from factories and also protecting the wildlife especially the endangered species and natural resources in general. As already mentioned, the environmental policies are formulated by the government. There are three major reasons why the government involves itself in the protection of the environment.
These three reasons are external dis economies also known as negative externalities. For instance a factory that contaminates water used by the community using its chemicals has no cost to suffer. Instead the community is the one to suffer because their water is polluted. The second reason is the free rider problem where people want to use or consume more than what they are entitled and the third reason is the danger of the commons whereby since nobody can legally claim to own most of these natural resources it then follows that they are exploited leading to their extinction.
A perfect example of danger of commons is over fishing. These three problems are normally summed in one name and called market failure which in essence means every person in the society is seeking to satisfy their individual self interest. It is for this reason that the government intervenes in order to protect the natural and the environment at large. Having discussed environmental policy in general, this paper shifts the focus to one specific environment policy or law namely National Environmental Policy Act. This Act was passed in 1969 and enacted in 1970.
Although environment policies are normally passed by the government in an attempt to protect the environment, this was slightly different. It was enacted after a public outcry over the government’s neglect and destruction of natural resources and the environment at large while building roads and highways. This Act was enacted mainly to ensure that natural resources consequently promote between human being and the environment. The other major aim of this Act was to ensure that businesses, companies and organizations at large always comply with the provisions and requirements of this Act.
It is therefore required by the law organizations while making proposals for their intended actions so that they may be environmental friendly. It is also a requirement in accordance with the Act that organizations submit a statement indicating the ways in which they intend to comply with this Act. According to the Act this statement should contain among other details the expected effects on environment by the proposed action, any expected but uncontrollable or unavoidable negative effect, any proposed alternatives among other relevant details.
This law as already mentioned was passed by the president of United States of America at that time Richard Nixon. Looking at the circumstances surrounding the passing and consequent enactment of this law, we realize that there could have been a political connotation that is attached to the enactment of this Act. Looking further at the provisions of the law there is a requirement that the president should head a council which came up with the requirement that stipulated the enactment of the law.
It could therefore be said that the National Environmental policy Act may have a political context even though not explicit. As earlier mentioned this Act will be passed as thousands of people protested against the actions by the government of the day which were proving harmful and destructive to the environment. Naturally, it is not expected that any entity individual or the government itself would pass laws which are against its own interests.
It is therefore such drawings that would make anyone conclude that there could be an explicit political context in the passing, enactment application and implementation of this Act. According to the Act most provisions were meant to limit the actions of government agencies. Analysts however assert that it is not practically possible for a government to endorser and consequently enact a law that shall limit the actions of the government. The Act is therefore seen as politically motivated and that in its enactment there may have been a hidden agenda.
Consequently therefore it means that the future of this particular legislation could be moe of a challenge putting in consideration all the circumstances surrounding it and most importantly the political aspect involved. The fact of the matter is that most companies, corporations, factories and major organizations are owned by the government. Another very important factor to consider is that most companies always opt to use cheap resources which are however harmful to the environment in order to maximize its profits.
The future of the National Environment Policy Act is quite challenging therefore keeping in mind all these facts. In conclusion therefore the national Environment policy Act may not have a promising future in terms of application and compliance with its provision. This is for the some reason that the government is at crossroads on whether to follow the provisions of the Act or to ignore and allow its companies to use chemicals that harmful is the environment in order to maximize their profits and thereby breach the provisions of the law.
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