COUNTRY PROFILE: united states

 

POPULATION: 301 million (2007)

LAND AREA: 9.16 million square kilometers

 

PRINCIPAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS: particulate air pollution, nonpoint source water pollution, ground-level ozone, loss of biodiversity, largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in world.

 

RANKING ON 2006 ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE INDEX: 28th (78.5)

 

POLITICAL FREEDOM RANKING (wwww.freedomhoouse.org): Press 1 (Free) Civil Liberties: 1 (Free)

 

PRINCIPAL FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS
National Environmental Policy Act (1970) - environmental impact assessment

Clean Air Act (1970) - air pollution control

Clean Water Act (1972) - water pollution control

Endangered Species Act (1973) - preservation of biodiversity

Safe Drinking Water Act (1974) - safe drinking water

Toxic Substances Control Act (1976) - control of toxic substances

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (1976) - hazardous waste disposal

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act (1980) - dumpsite cleanup

Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Act (1986) - information disclosure

 

CITIZEN SUIT PROVISIONS in most federal environmental statutes authorize lawsuits against both government agencies who fail to perform non-discretionary duties and against violators of the laws.

 

CONSTITUTION (1789)

No mention of the environment

 

GOVERNMENT AGENCIES WITH PRIMARY ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION RESPONSIBILITIES

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1970) - pollution control

U.S. Department of the Interior (1849) - management of national parks and public lands

 

PROTECTED AREAS

National Parks (350 units on 80 million acres, managed by the National Park Service)

National Wildlife Refuges (492 units on 88 million acres, managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

National Forests (191 million acres managed by U.S. Forest Service)

General public lands (340 million acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management)

 

INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL TREATIES

Signatory to 32 treaties, party to 130 (http://sedac.ciesin.org/entri/countryProfile.jsp)

Signed, but has not ratified: Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change

 

SOURCES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:

Percival, et al., Environmental Regulation: Law, Science & Policy (5th ed. 2006): www.law.umaryland.edu/environment/casebook.

U.S Environmental Protection Agency: www.epa.gov

U.S. Department of Interior: www.doi.gov