Mainland High School
Lord of the Trash Rings: ISTF 09-2004
Pollution Laws
With recognition of our misdoings, came the need for laws, regulations, and monies to clean up our mistakes and oversights.
Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol was adopted on December 11, 1997, signed by 187 countries. Under the protocol, ratifying nations must decrease emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons, and perfluorocarbons by 5.2% of their 1990 emissions. The protocol not only allowed developing countries to be exempt from the reduction standards but also allowed "trading" in which one country pays another country to reduce emissions for them.

Although America signed the framework on December, 11, 1998, it was never ratified by the Senate subsequently forcing its expiration in 2012. In December, 2009, the Copenhagen Climate Conference was held at which President Obama stated that
"I'm confident that America will fulfill the commitments that we have made: cutting our emissions in the range of 17 percent by 2020, and by more than 80 percent by 2050 in line with final legislation."
Clean Water Act
Passed in 1972 in response to extensive water pollution and growing public concern, the Clean Water Act is a U.S. law protecting surface waters of rivers, lakes, aquifers and coastal areas of the United States. The basic goals are to restore and maintain a good water condition by eliminating the discharge of pollutants and achieving higher water quality levels. In addition, it requires major industries to meet performance standards to guarantee pollution control. It also charges states with setting specific water quality requirements.

In 1977, it was amended and renamed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and gave the Environmental Potection Agency, (EPA), authority over pollution control. In 1987, Congress passed the Marine Plastic Pollution Research and Control Act, (MPPRCA), establishing control over marine plastic pollution.

Clean Air Act
The Clean Air Act, CAA, passed in 1975, is a wide-range Federal law that regulates air emissions and authorizes the EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards, NAAQS, to protect public health and the environment. In addition, the law defines the EPA's responsibilities to protect and improve the nation's stratospheric ozone layer and chemicals that form acid rain (pg 17). According to their guidlines, the EPA recommends recycling of plastic, paper, glass bottles, cardboard, and aluminum. It also recommends shopping with canvas bags instead of paper or plastic.

This environmental program, and it associated federal funds, was established by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, CERCLA, of 1980. Since its creation, the Superfund program has located and analyzed "tens of thousands" of hazardous waste sites. The Superfund has been used to clean sites resulting from plastic pollution.


A Pilot Study of Dredging and Disposal Alternatives for the New Bedford Harbor, Massachusetts, Superfund Site,

Clean Air Act

Emissions Trading

EPA’s Role in the Prevention and Control of Marine Debris

Kyoto Protocol

Kyoto Protocol Status of Ratification

Marine Debris Legislation and Policy

National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)

NOAA Marine Debris Program

Obama tells Copenhagen climate conference: "No time to waste" Transcript

Ozone Protection

Summary of the Clean Water Act

Superfund Basic Information

The Plain English Guide to the Clean Air Act

The Quiet Death of the Kyoto Protocol

Ways to Reduce Air Pollution

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