The Relationship Between Policy, Statutes, and Regulations in Environmental Law

Environmental policy is the official stance or statement by a government or organization which provides a framework for its environmental objectives. (C2E2. org, 2011)The US Government Environmental policy is contained in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). Congress declared under section 4331(a) of NEPA that it is “the continuing policy of the federal government… to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony, and to fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans. (U. S. Congress, 1969)
Environmental statutes are the written will or act of the legislature with regard to expressing the stated environmental policy. (Lectric Law Library, 2011) NEPA functions in this capacity by enabling the EPA to promulgate regulations in order to set forth guidelines by which other agencies must comply in order to satisfy the intent of NEPA. Environmental regulations act as the forcing mechanism with which to gain compliance with the statute as set forth under the policy.
Continuing to use NEPA as an example, the US Government environmental policy is contained in NEPA (the statute) which prescribes regulations that aim at protecting the environment. Most noteably, the EPA issued regulations regarding Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) and Environmental Assessments (AE) assess the possible environmental impacts of proposed government projects and there alternatives – and are required from all federal agencies. (US EPA, 2011)

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