U.S. Environmental Legislation

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Financial Times  Mar 25  Comment 
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Environmental legislation in the U.S. is a large topic, encompassing regulation of many aspects of the air, water, and land use.

  • Mining/Timber
  • Waterlands
  • chemicals

Reducing carbon emissions

With the increase in attention to global warming, carbon emissions have become a major target of government regulation both in the US and abroad.

Drivers

  • US Politics
    • democrats historically favor regulation
  • Supreme court decisions
  • Science

Drilling Legislation

Increasing vehicle fuel efficiency

Driven by:

  • rising gas prices
  • politics
    • public opinion about global warming
    • democrats
  • global politics (instablity in middle east)
  • alternate fuel -- costs and availability
  • fall of US automakers

Positives

  • Japanese automakers -- Honda, Toyota, Nissan
  • alternate technology (electric cars)

Negatives

  • US automakers - GM, Ford, Chrysler
    • analysts differ. increasing fuel economy may decrease profits, but analysts differ on whether this is significantly or not
    • "each 5% increase in fuel economy standards costing between $200 and $400 per vehicle, according to Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache"
    • smaller vehicles less profitable
    • "Of the 11.4 million vehicles Detroit sold last year, 59% were trucks." (minivans, pickups, suvs)
  • alternate fuel? either/or?

Alternate fuels

US Environmental Legislation has often encouraged alternative fuels that have a smaller impact on the environment and are perceived as "green." These often Renewable Energy Sources include Corn, switch grass, wood fibers and many others.

Wetlands and Land Use Regulation

Through the Clean Water Act and subsequent Supreme Court decisions, the United States Government is able to claim jurisdiction over the regulation of "Waters of the US" - a term that has come to encompass wetland areas defined by certain hydrological and vegetative characteristics. The Army Corp. of Engineers serves as the federal government's primary regulator of these waters, and must review any development plans that propose to disturb a wetland area. Although this regulation theoretically hinders certain types of commercial activity in coastal areas, it does serve as a barrier to entry and a source of land value preservation. Home builders attempting to do business in coastal areas face a lengthy regulatory approval process prior to receiving permission to commence construction. Those who are able to do so should benefit from the scarcity that wetland regulation encourages.

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