Environmental Law Newsletters

Automotive Fuel Economy

At the time of the energy crisis, the fuel economy of automobiles averaged 13.5 miles per gallon (mpg) and trucks averaged 11.6 mpg. One of the purposes of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act was to provide for the improved energy efficiency of motor vehicles. For passenger cars, the EPCA gradually increased the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards to 27.5 mpg for vehicles built after 1984. The CAFE standard for light trucks is currently 20.7 mpg and is scheduled to increase to 22.2 mpg for the 2007 model year.

Federal Preemption of State Environmental Law

In certain areas of environmental law, Congress will see fit to completely preempt states from acting. However, despite the power of the federal government to preempt states from acting in the field of environmental law, most federal environmental statutes recognize that the protection of the environment is in principle an appropriate area for the exercise of state police power to protect the health, safety, and welfare of state citizens.

SLAPP--Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation Suits

The increased criticism and litigation against big business in the environmental arena led to the invention of the SLAPP suit, the shorthand for "strategic lawsuit against public participation."

The Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988

Because it was difficult to determine both the source and the extent of the problem, Congress passed the Medical Waste Tracking Act (MWTA) in 1988, which established a two-year demonstration program administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that required the detailed tracking of infectious medical waste from its creation to its ultimate disposal. The program was modeled after the regulatory scheme for handling other hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which requires "cradle-to-grave" regulation and tracking of hazardous waste.

The Radon Gas and Indoor Air Quality Research Act of 1986

In recognition of the potential hazard posed by radon gas in particular as well as the overall importance of indoor air quality, Congress passed the Radon Gas and Indoor Air Quality Research Act (Air Quality Research Act) in 1986. Among other things, the Air Quality Research Act directed the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a research program with respect to indoor air quality in order to add to the understanding of health problems associated with indoor air pollutants.