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Name
Acronym/Abbreviation
Other names
Description
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Administrative Cases
Administrative cases are cases brought before an administrative court, as opposed to judicial cases that are brought before a normal (circuit) court.
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Civil Cases
Civil cases are legal cases (administrative or judicial) that result from violations of civil laws, as opposed to criminal laws.
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Clean Air ActCAA
The CAA authorizes the EPA to regulate emissions from stationary sources (e.g., power plants) and mobile sources (e.g., automobiles). It also authorizes the EPA to set ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) and to oversee how states implement plans to regulate air pollution. Other parts of the law address pollutants that affect acid rain and the ozone layer. The modern version of the CAA dates to 1970. Weaker versions of the law preceded that. Major revisions to the law were enacted in 1977 and 1990.
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Clean Water ActCWA
The CWA authorizes the EPA to reguate the discharge of pollutants into surface waters (e.g., lakes and streams) and to establish water quality standards for surface waters. It includes a program to finance wastewater treatment plant construction and improvement. It also regulates dredging and filling of wetlands. the modern version of the CWA was enacted in 1972. Weaker versions of the law preceded that, and major revisions were enacted in 1977 and 1987.
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Compliance Costs
Injunctive Relief
The estimated cost incurred by polluters and other violators to comply with EPA legal actions and directives. Compliance costs are also known as "injunctive relief."
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Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
CERCLASuperfund
CERCLA authorizes the EPA to identify parties responsible for uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites (e.g., chemical spills and former factory sites). Parties liable for these sites can be required to assist or fund clean up. The act initially established a large fund ("Superfund") based on taxes on chemical and petroleum industries, to pay for sites where a responsible party could not be identified. However, Congress did not renew this tax and the fund ran out in 2001 and the cleanup is now payed by all taxpayers. CERCLA was enacted in 1980 with a major amendments in 1986 and 2002.
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Council on Environmental QualityCEQ
The CEQ advises the White House on the environment and helps coordinate the federal government's approach to the environment. It also oversees administration of the National Environmental Policy Act. It is separate from the EPA and unlike the EPA is not primarily a regulatory agency.
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Criminal Cases
Criminal cases are legal cases that result from the violation of criminal laws, as opposed to civil laws.
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Emergency Planning and Right-to-Know ActEPCRA
EPCRA requires industry reporting of toxic releases (e.g., the Toxic Release Inventory) and requires and facilitates emergency planning at the local level for chemical accidents. EPCRA was passed as part of the 1986 Superfund Amendments and Authorization Act (SARA).
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Executive Order 12898 (Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations)
EO 12898
EO 12898 directs federal agencies to identify and address unequal pollution burdens and other environmental health risks in minority and low-income communities. It requires federal agency to develop strategies for implementing environmental justice and promote nondiscrimination in federal programs that bear on environmental health. It also established the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice. This EO was issued in 1994.
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Fiscal Year (FY)
The federal fiscal year begins October 1 and ends September 30. The calendar year it ends in is the year used to name the fiscal year.
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Hazardous Air PollutantsHAPsAir Toxics
Hazardous air pollutants are those known to cause serious health effects (e.g., cancer, birth defects) or adverse environmental effects.
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Inspections
Inspections are checks and tests undertaken by government officials (or contractors) to determine if regulated entities are in compliance with environmental laws. Inspections that find violations are often the starting point for legal cases against entities that are out of compliance.
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Judicial Cases
Judicial cases are cases brought before a normal (circuit) court (as opposed to an administrative court).
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Maximum Achievable Control TechnologyMACT
Under the CAA, the EPA sets MACT standards for many hazardous air pollutants. MACT standards involve identifying the best-performing industry technology for emissions and using that as a baseline to set standards.
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National Ambient Air Quality StandardsNAAQS
NAAQS are ambient air quality standards (i.e., standards for how much pollution is in the air, rather than how much is being emitted from a stack or a tail pipe). Under the CAA, the EPA is supposed to identify six important air pollutants ("criteria pollutants") and set standards that protect public health and welfare. States must develop plans ("State Implementation Plans") that will allow them to achieve NAAQS standards. These plans must be approved by the EPA.
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National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants
NESHAP
Under the CAA, the EPA sets standards for emissions of hazardous air pollutants (NESHAPs).
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National Environmental Policy ActNEPA
NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental impacts of proposed projects and alternatives to those projects. NEPA, passed in 1969, was the first national law that established a broad national framework for the environment. It also created the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).
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New Source ReviewNSR
NSR is part of the permitting process of the CAA. The EPA reviews the modification or construction of new factories and power plants (or other stationary sources of air pollution). Depending on how significant the changes are, more stringent pollution control technology may be required. The program has been controversial due to the ambiguity of what constitutes a "new" source.
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Resource Consevation and Recovery ActRCRA
RCRA authorizes the EPA to regulate the management of solid and hazardous wastes. The modern version of RCRA was enacted in 1976, though there were earlier national solid waste laws. Major amendments have come in 1980, 1984, 1992, 1996 and 2012.
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Safe Drinking Water ActSDWA
The SDWA authorizes EPA to set drinking water standards and regulate some activities that affect groundwater. The SDWA was enacted in 1974, with a major amendment in 1996.
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State Implementation PlansSIPs
SIPs are plans for controlling air pollution that states develop in order to meet air quality standards (NAAQS) set by the EPA. The EPA approves and oversees SIPs.
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SuperfundCERCLA
See Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
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Supplemental Environmental ProjectsSEPs
Requirements, imposed on violators of environmental laws through orders or settlements, to fund projects to improve environmental or human health in affected communities.
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Toxic Substances Control ActTSCA
Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act
TSCA authorizes the EPA to require companies to report information about chemicals to the agency, and it authorizes the EPA to assess and regulate those chemicals. The chemicals that fall under the jurisidction of the law include many that are used on consumer products and are not otherwise regulated by other laws (such as laws regulating food, cosmetics and pesticides). The law specifically regulates some chemicals (e.g., PCBs and lead) and provides a system for regulating the other ones, including a registry. Since its passage in 1976, it has been amended several times, with the most major overhaul coming in 2016 (the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Act).
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