To your average, everyday person, the area of environmental law may not mean to much. This isn’t a problem, per se; but our environment directly affects us in many ways. When people or companies violate intricately constructed laws and protocols that are specifically designed to protect the environment (and, thus, us), they need to be held accountable for their actions. While an individual crime, such as robbery or fraud, may only affect one or two people in a single moment, an environmental crime can affect tens (and likely hundreds) of thousands of people over a very long period.
That’s why environmental law is so important, even if it goes unrecognized. These laws ensure that companies dispose of their waste properly; that the byproducts of manufacturing are as safe as possible; and that we can all enjoy a healthy world.
Probably the first thing that many San Diego residents will think of when they hear “environmental law” is the BP oil spill (or the Deepwater Horizon Disaster). The event was terrible enough; but now some are questioning the way in which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association collected samples around the disaster to learn contamination levels.
A study performed by a member of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium found that the contamination levels reported by the NOAA and other federal agencies was lower than a more recent contamination sampling that was taken during the same time period. In other words: it is possible that the contamination figures were purposely falsified during the disaster to placate the public.
The study also touches on some outdated tactics used by the NOAA to gather their information; and it also concedes that dispersants used during the disaster to break up oil molecules could have affected the contamination results.
Source: New York Times, “Gulf Spill Sampling Questioned,” Henry Fountain, Aug. 19, 2013