Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Federal Involvement in Protecting Natural Resources

The involvement of the federal government is absolutely necessary for the protection of natural resources. For without laws and statutes designed to protect natural resources, the longevity of these resources would be in the hands of the few and greedy. Just as Hardin (2008) explains that cattle need an organized management system to ensure they do not over-graze the land, human beings need to be governed by a set of laws in order to maintain harmony and balance.
The United States (U.S.) government has established many laws and agencies to protect our country’s natural resources, such as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (EPA, 2011). The federal government has achieved a great deal in a short 40-50 years and “federal support for natural resources conservation programs, and investments in environmental protection and restoration projects, has been enormously important in helping protect and maintain the natural resource strength upon which the Nation depends” (Sampson, 1998, p.1). The federal government also provides assistance to the public, in the form of incentive programs, grants, and other assistance programs for private land owners.
Unfortunately, the NEPA “[does] little to provide explicit guidance on how public participation and collaborative processes are to be utilized” (Travis, 2009, p.1). Furthermore, excessive government involvement is also the cause of much political debate, as the federal budget continues to swell (Sampson, 1998).
Additionally, while the government may make attempts to enforce many laws regarding the protection of natural resources, the execution of these laws does not always have sustainability at the forefront. The federal government lends many tools to businesses and the public and does its best to enforce regulations; however they are not equipped, with enough finances or personnel, to ensure that all environmental issues are handled sustainably. In most cases, the U.S. government is still in a pattern of being heavily reactive, rather than being proactive in planning and regulations. Sampson states that more emphasis needs to be placed on
“re-investment in those natural areas that have been over-used or abused as well as continued research and monitoring to assure conditions are staying truly sustainable, and not just deteriorating at a rate too slow to be readily apparent…and provide adequate incentives so that pollution and resource waste do not rob the future of our children” (1998, p. 2).

EPA. (2011, March 2). Laws and executive orders. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/lawsregs/laws/
Hardin, G. (2008, February 18). Garrett Hardin interview on the Tragedy of the Commons and Resource. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8gAMFTAt2M&feature=player_embedded
Sampson, R. N. (1998). Federal investment in natural resources and the environment. Retrieved from http://www.sampsongroup.com/Papers/federal%20budget%20trends.pdf
Travis, M. C. (2009). Collaborative Processes under NEPA: Are We There Yet?. Natural Resources & Environment, 23(4), 36-59. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

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