When should you take polluters, companies, governments or other citizens to court for failing to protect the environment?
In most nations of the world, important laws now exist to protect clean air and clean water, minimize the environmental impacts of destructive practices like logging and mining, prevent toxic dumping and require companies to clean up hazardous waste, safeguard wetlands and wilderness areas, and keep watch over wildlife.
In the U.S., the bedrock of environmental law is the National Environmental Policy Act, which was passed in 1970 to protect the environment against both public and private actions that might harm eco-systems. In Australia, it is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Other countries have other legislation in place. The power of these laws lies in the ability they provide to hold polluters accountable for the havoc they wreak on natural resources as well as human well-being.