Environmental Law Newsletters
In 1959, reflecting the states' traditional roles in protecting the health and safety of their citizens, amendments to the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) provided for the entry of the individual states into the area of nuclear regulation. Under the amendments, states could license and regulate radioactive waste, source materials such as uranium ores, and small quantities of special nuclear materials such as enriched uranium. In order for a state to assert regulatory authority under the AEA, the state must make an agreement with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the NRC must ascertain that the state's regulatory scheme for controlling radioactive materials meets NRC requirements and will safeguard public health and the environment.
The Coastal Barriers Resources Act (CBRA) was the result of the realization by Congress that coastal barrier land masses were a tremendously valuable natural resource and that because of their inherent vulnerability to erosion and storms, they were not well-suited to development. In order to both protect coastal barrier habitats and minimize the wasteful expenditure of federal funds, the CBRA was passed in 1982 to identify undeveloped coastal barrier land masses and restrict federal funding for such areas.
Authority to enact laws for the protection of the environment is not among the powers specifically granted to Congress by the United States Constitution. Yet, the constitutionality of most of the environmentally-oriented legislation passed by Congress has been upheld.
In June of 2003, the Environmental Protection Agency published its first-ever comprehensive report on the U.S. environment entitled EPA's Draft Report on the Environment 2003 (ROE). The ROE, 167 pages in length, reviews in detail the status of the nation's progress in the areas of air quality, water quality, land management, human health, and ecological conditions.
In 1998, the Plant Patents Amendment Act was passed by Congress to amend the plant patent grant provisions of the Patent Act. Under the amendments, a plant patent owner is now given the right to exclude others from asexually reproducing, selling, or importing a patented plant, or any parts of the plant, for the patent term.