Environmental Ethics and United States Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3188 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Transportation - Environmental Issues

Ignoring the political influence, EPA has been introducing reforms which have been effective in at least setting up minimum standards for the well-being of human health, animal and plants protection along with ecological balance. It has introduced and enforced various acts under Congress's supervision which have been functional in protecting and restoring natural resources. Examples of some of the reforms introduced by EPA are Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfield Revitalization Act, Nuclear Waste Repository Act, Food Quality Protection Act, Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996, Toxic Substances Control Act, Endangered Species Act and other programs including Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative, fuel economy, global warming etc.

The given set of policies and acts indicate that EPA covers wide range of environment protection issues and its operations are well-supported by its skilled human resources and other research facilities. The mission of EPA is clear and concise i.e. To protect human health and the environment (EPA, 2012).

Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM)Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Term Paper on Environmental Ethics & United States Assignment

Another important agency responsible for environment protection is BLM. It is the mission of the Bureau of Land Management to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Prior to 1946, the Department of Interior controlled their 253 million acres of public land under the discretion of the General Land Office, which was created in 1812, and the U.S. Grazing Service, which was established in 1934 (BLM, 2010). However, after the formation of BLM, the pressing issues of water management, freshwater life management, sea life management and the access of public to the state-owned landscapes. The idea behind formation of this organization is to protect and preserve the American lands and included public property. This agency operates in the light of Omnibus Public Land Management Act, the Federal Land and Policy Management Act, and the Mineral Leasing Act and Amendments. The governing body of this agency is Minerals Management Service which is an extension of Department of Interior where MMA itself, is responsible for disaster management.

National Park Service (NPS)

Another agency run by U.S. government with the motive of environment protection and restoration is National Parks Service. The mission of the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) is to conserve the scenery, the natural and historic objects, and the wildlife in United States' national parks, and to provide for the public's enjoyment of these features in a manner that will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations. This agency was created in 1916 and its jurisdiction spreads over 400 national parks. NPS operates under the guidelines of National Park Service Organic Act. According to this Act, NPS is responsible for operating and protecting the prolonged existence of the parks in United States and also make them useful for educational and other purposes. This agency in turn, reports to EPA, Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior. The reporting heads of this organization are Director of the national Park Service and also the Secretary of Interior (NPS, 2012).

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The purpose of this department is to keep supervision on the quality and quantity of food production and also the manufacture of by-products as well. Nearly 150 years later, the "leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management" remains the mission of the USDA as it navigates the ever-growing agricultural landscape of the United States (USDA, 2012). USDA is not just an authority which is responsible for regulating the food manufacturing processes. It is responsible to ensure that the food produce has the necessary nutrients and the manufacturing processes used tend not to have any side- effects which may hamper a unit of ecological system. Therefore, food protection, farms safety, management of health standards serves as the prime goals of this department.

It is also a responsibility of this department to ensure that contemporary farming techniques are used by the farmers and they are well-assisted by necessary products such as pesticides etc. To ensure that no food wastage takes place and the food manufacturing process is expedient and efficient. The responsibility is performed with the help of doctrines offered by conservation policy. This department runs with the mission of providing leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management.

Role of Civil Society in Environment Protection & Preservation

Civil society has been acting as a watchdog for American governance related to environment protection. Michael Bratton describes civil society as social interaction between the household and the state characterized by community cooperation, structures of voluntary association, and networks of public communication (Bratton, 1994).

There are numerous NGOs working for the protection of wild-life, sea life, deep ecology, endangered species, outcomes of green-house effect and emergencies. The role of these NGOs is more substantial than the government as government act as the regulatory authority which has limited span of access to the problematic areas. On the other hand, NGOs operate at grass root level which allows them to get in touch with the problem directly. Since they also have power to influence and reach general public, therefore the effectiveness of the measures introduced by them, although in the light of government directives, have greater potential of making a difference.

The legal system of U.S. federal government performs enforcement of environmental laws in three ways. First, governmental agencies have police power to enforce regulations against those who violate laws and regulations. Second, citizens or NGOs that have constitutional standing to sue play a major role in forcing the government to abide by its own rules and regulations under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).Finally, under certain environmental statutes, citizens are granted the power to enforce environmental laws directly, acting in effect as private attorneys general by suing third-parties such as individuals and companies who violate the law (Daggett, 2002).

In the present system of United States, these NGOs have substantial influence for enforcement of environmental laws. These bodies operate as law makers, watchdogs, whistleblowers and attorney generals (Dagget, 2002). Currently, about 10,000 NGOs are operating in United States for the environment protection and longevity whereas some of them have extensions across the borders as well. Other than the NGOs, the common citizens of United States also share the same paradigm which is introduced by the United States government. After acknowledgment of environment ethics by the U.S. government in 1970s, the ratio of whistle blowing by the citizens for animal rights, endangered species, and unethical manufacturing processes hampering environment balance has increased greatly.

However, it is important to note that this transformation has taken place due to initiatives taken by the United States government. In the absence of necessary laws and law enforcing agencies, the idea of environmental ethics would not have evolved as it is right now. Secondly, without the introduction of the concept related to importance of environmental ethics, the general public would not have shown its sponsorship for environment protection measures. Even NGOs operate within the jurisdiction provided to them by law enforcing agencies. Like states earlier, NGOs act as a legal ambassador of the government when it comes to environmental laws enforcement. Therefore, without this extension of power to the civil society, the NGOs would have faced considerable difficulty in enforcing and introducing environment protection measures.


United States government has been a pioneer in making environmental ethics part of actual legislations prevailing in U.S. If we ignore the impact of political conditions and contingencies, it is evident that the United States government is an advocate of environment protection and restoration. This paradigm has been rooted into political ideology of this country. It was the formation of departments like BML and USAD in 18th century which has laid down the foundation of environmental ethics in the basic philosophy followed by U.S. government. Where countries all across the world have been struggling to introduce reforms for the protection of natural assets, ecological balance and wild life, U.S. government has moved one step forward and has dedicated a whole agency named as Environment Protection Agency, employing 17000 resources for this purpose. In addition to that, there are various other bodies like BML, USDA and NPS dedicated with the broader vision of environmental protection but with focused authority, purpose and guidelines.

In addition to these legal bodies, United States government has also encouraged civil society to play its respective role in protecting and restoring environment. There are many NGOs operating in United States which are also working for the similar cause as EPA, USDA, NPS etc. The powers shared by U.S. government with these private organizations reflect that U.S. government tends to play the role of a sponsor for public awareness and actual measures taken for the purpose of addressing environmental threats. In addition to that,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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