What major event caused the Congress of the United States to enact a series of strong environmental legislation?
During the 1960s-1970s, the new wave of the U.S. environmental movement contributed to enacting the series of strong environmental laws. The changes in the environmental legislation realized by the Congress of the United States were directly affected by the development of the environmental movement which was closely associated with such important events as the publication of Rachael Carson’s Silent Spring (1962).
Carson’s book contributed to the formation of the main principles of the environmental movement with the help of evoking the active discussion of environmental issues. The book was focused on the hazards of using such pesticides as DDT, and it increased the public’s awareness of the potential health and environmental risks of using strong chemicals for farming not only in the United States but also around the world (Portney & Stavins, 2000, p. 215). In her book, Carson paid much attention to the real effects of using synthetic pesticides in agriculture and industry to facilitate the growth and affect the profits.
To provide the conclusions about the effects, the author used the specific data and findings of the researches, which were conducted earlier by the other investigators, but their results were not presented to the public because of their controversy. The author focused on the negative consequences of using synthetic pesticides such as DDT without any control or further examination of their effects on nature because such tendencies were observed in the U.S. agricultural sector.
Carson changed the minds of many future followers of the environmental movement because she presented the real-life examples of the drastic effects of pesticides on the food chain and the whole ecology (Portney & Stavins, 2000, p. 215-216). From this point, the book influenced changes in the approaches to discussing environmental issues, and the developed debates provoked the new wave of the environmental movement in the United States.
Thus, the Earth Day celebrations in 1970 were also associated with the discussion of the environmental concerns stated by Carson in her book because the establishment of the Earth Day during the period could draw more attention to the public and authorities to the environmental issues and concerns. Moreover, the era of changes in the environmental legislation was determined with references to the specific laws developed to regulate and control the activities causing negative environmental impacts. The first step was also realized in 1970, and it was connected with establishing the Environmental Protection Agency.
The U.S. government focused on pesticide regulation and on banning the use of harmful chemicals in farming with the help of the Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act. Furthermore, such associated laws as the Clean Air and Water Acts were also signed into action to stabilize the situation to the environmental issues (Davies, 2013, p. 108-119). During the 1970s, the important laws to regulate the use of different substances which can be toxic for animals and destroy the food chain and to control the waste recycling processes were enacted Davies, 2013, p. 90-95).
From this point, the publication of Rachael Carson’s Silent Spring and the following environmental movement contributed to establishing the specific laws to protect the environment and ecosystem while focusing on the control of economic activities which could be harmful to natural resources and their preservation.
The deadly gas leak at the Union Carbide Plant in Bhopal, India, led to the enactment of what legislation and for what purpose?
On December 2, 1984, deadly gas leaked from the plant in Bhopal, India, which was regulated by the Union Carbide Corporation. More than three thousand people were killed because of the disaster (Schaffer, Agusti, & Earle, 2009, p. 27). During the first days after the disaster, the Union Carbide Corporation refused to take moral and financial responsibility for the tragedy caused in Bhopal, India.
The changes in the corporation’s approach and strategy were associated with enacting the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act developed by the Indian government in 1985. That is why the disaster in Bhopal led to the development and enactment of effective legislation to regulate the controversial situations associated with disasters and necessary compensations. The purpose of enacting the law was to resolve the problematic situation of rejecting moral responsibility for the disaster by the Union Carbide Corporation. However, the Union Carbide Corporation finally agreed with points stated by the Indian government in the Act and took the moral responsibility for the tragedy (Broughton, 2005, p. 14).
While enacting the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act, the Indian government focused on the principle of equitability while discussing the claims of the tragedy’s victims. The policy enabled the Indian government to act as a representative of the victims’ interests in all the legal proceedings associated with the accident to ensure that the victims could receive the necessary compensation. The Indian government performed the role of a regulator in the conflict about the compensation issues with references to the developed Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act because the Act allowed the shift from relying on the U.S. legislation to using the advantages of the Indian jurisdiction to resolve the problem (Broughton, 2005, p. 15).
The Union Carbide Corporation paid the stated compensation for the damages caused because of the accident (Schaffer, Agusti, & Earle, 2009, p. 27). The enactment of the specific law contributed to positive changes for the victims of the disaster because the Act was associated with the Doctrine of forum nonconvenient according to which the U.S. courts had to decline hearing the cases because of the stated competence of the Indian courts to hear the cases with references to the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act (Schaffer, Agusti, & Earle, 2009, p. 27).
The discussed approach helped the representatives of the Indian victims in preventing the unjust actions of the Union Carbide Corporation oriented to manipulation of the data necessary to name companies and persons responsible for the tragedy.
Referring to the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act, the government of India ensured that the victims’ interests were protected appropriately, and the attempts to manipulate the consequences of the tragedy were prevented or overcome because of the Indian government’s exclusive right to present the interests of the accident’s victims in courts. As a result, the enactment of the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act was an effective decision to stimulate the process and discuss the issue under the Indian jurisdiction to contribute to making the Union Carbide Corporation take the moral and financial responsibility for the tragedy.
Broughton, E. (2005). The Bhopal disaster and its aftermath: a review. Environmental Health, 4(6), 12-20.
Davies, K. (2013). The rise of the U.S. environmental health movement. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Portney, P & Stavins, R. (2000). Public policies for environmental protection. Washington, DC: Routledge.
Schaffer, R., Agusti, F., & Earle, B. (2009). International business law and its environment. USA: Cengage Learning.