“Environmental policy is any (course of) action deliberately taken (or not taken) to manage human activities with a view to prevent, reduce, or mitigate harmful effects on nature and natural resources, and ensuring that man-made changes to the environment do not have harmful effects on humans” (McCormick 21). This paper seeks to provide a basic understanding of the federal environmental policies set forth in the Clean Water Act, as well as the Endangered Species Act, and how they relate to state policies, such as Washington’s Forest Practices Act. Discussion will focus on the history of the Clean Water Act; how it has changed over time and how it came to be the law in effect today. Also, this paper will focus on the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which provides for the conservation and recovery of threatened and endangered species. In addition, different methods of conservation and recovery that are outlined in the Endangered Species Act will be discussed. Finally, Washington’s Forest Practices Act will be described, and the interrelatedness of these state and federal laws will be portrayed. Clean Water Act
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, also known as the Clean Water Act (CWA), was originally enacted in 1948, and was the first comprehensive statement of federal interest in clean water programs. According to Copeland, it sought to provide state and local governments with technical assistance funds in order to address water pollution problems (5). Standards for water quality became a feature of the law in 1965, when states were required to set standards for interstate waters to be used in determining actual pollution levels and control requirements. Frustrations over the difficulties of linking responsible parties to their pollution, and the perception that those existing enforcement procedures were too time consuming paved the way for amendments to the act in 1972. The 1972 statute spelled out large scale water quality improvement programs to be implemented by municipalities, industries, and others. It required all industrial and municipal wastewater to be treated before discharge into waterways, provided federal funding for treatment plant construction, and streamlined enforcement of the law. Copeland said the objective of the legislation was the restoration and maintenance of the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. In addition, two goals were set forth: zero discharge of pollutants by 1985, and water quality that is both “fishable” and “swimmable” by mid-1983 (5). “Best practicable control technology” (BPT) standards were mandated to be installed by industries by mid-1977, while municipal wastewater treatment plants had to meet a corresponding goal, labeled “secondary treatment” by the same date. The primary function of BPT was focused on regulating the discharge of conventional pollutants, or substances which are biodegradable, occur naturally in the aquatic environment, and promote eutrophic conditions. These programs were primarily directed at point source pollution, such as pipes and outfalls. Until the 1987 amendments to the CWA, slight attention had been paid to non-point source pollution like storm water runoff from urban areas, construction sites, forests, and agricultural lands. Copeland pointed out that rainfall and snowmelt runoff pick up pollutants as they travel across land, including toxic materials, sediments, and nutrients, such as nitrogen, that can corrupt water quality. Measures to address non-point source pollution and implement management programs were included in the 1987 amendments. According to Copeland, individual states were encouraged to engage in groundwater protection activities, and given federal grants that would cover up to 60% of the cost of implementation of such activities (7). Under section 319 of the CWA, programs for the management of runoff and non-point source pollution are the responsibility of individual states, and are not subject to...
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