The American West at Risk: Science, Myths, and Politics of Land Abuse and Recovery

By Howard G. Wilshire; Jane E. Nielson et al. | Go to book overview

Appendix 2
Best Intentions: Federal Waste
Disposal Laws
YearLaw1
1899The Refuse Act/Rivers and Harbors Appropriations Act gives the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) wide jurisdiction over activities that alter navigable waters. The most important subsection is the “Refuse Act,” prohibiting discharge of “refuse matter of any kind or description whatsoever” into navigable waters, or other waters of the United States that feed into navigable waters, without a permit from the corps. For its first 60 years, the strong criminal sanctions are little used because the corps applies the law only to structures obstructing navigation. Eventually the corps expands its authority and begins setting permit requirements for pollutant discharges. In the late 1960s, environmentalists rediscover the act and put its enforcement provisions to work.
1947The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act requires all pesticides distributed, sold, offered, or received to be registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), contingent on the EPA determining that the pesticides are effective as claimed, are labeled in conformance with federal standards, and will perform their functions without “unreasonable risks to humans and the environment, taking into account the economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits of the pesticides intended use”—as long as they are applied in accordance with instructions. The EPA must follow all registrations by establishing maximum permissible exposure “tolerance levels” for each chemical.
1960The Federal Hazardous Substance Act gives the Consumer Product Safety Commission control over new toxins, hazardous substances, corrosives, and other substances in interstate commerce.

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