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Environmental Law

  • By: Jeffrey W. Henquinet
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Environmental law refers to the array of rules guiding human behaviors that affect the physical and biological world. These rules define what is prohibited, allowed, or required of people in a given situation and the penalties for transgressing those rules. While rules may arise from a wide range of sources from families to governments, this entry outlines the current framework of U.S. environmental law. It ends with a brief overview of the growing trends of criminalization and internationalization in environmental law.

U.S. Common Law

The first U.S. environmental laws existed within the common law, a system of law that originated in England based on the decisions of judges from previous cases as opposed to laws created by legislative bodies. Within common law, tort law provides remedies for ...

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