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Environmental Law Research: Primary Sources

Federal Legislative History

Legislation is introduced by members of the House or Senate. Each proposed new law is called a bill or joint resolution. Bills are numbered sequentially (for example the first House bill will be numbered H.R. 1 and the first Senate bill will be S.R. 1). Bills are assigned to committees in each house. After a bill passes the house in which it was introduced, it is sent to the other house for consideration. If a bill is approved by both houses, it is sent to the President to be signed. If the President signs the bill, it becomes law. If the President vetoes the bill, a two thirds vote in both houses will override the veto. Bills introduced but not passed in a Congress do not carry over to the next session.

The Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress compiles various reports for Congress.  There are multiple reports related to Environmental Law. A particularly helpful report is Environmental Laws: Summaries of Major Statutes Administered by Environmental Protection Agency, October 8, 2010.

Federal Statutes

The Clean Air Act (CAA) 42 U.S.C. § 7401

The Clean Water Act (CWA) - 42 U.S.C. § 7401-7671, 33 U.S.C. § 1251-1387

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) - 42, U.S.C. § 4321-4347

The Ocean Dumping Act -33 U.S.C. 1401-1445, 16 U.S.C. § 1447-1447f

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) - 42 U.S.C. § 300(f)-300(j)

The Pollution Prevention Act (PPA) - 42 U.S.C. § 13101-13109

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) - 15 U.S.C. § 2601-2695d



LibGuide Statutory Research - Federal & State

Administrative Research

Federal Regulatory Process

Federal regulations are authorized by legislation enacted by Congress. Some landmark legislation, such as the Clean Air Act and the Civil Rights Act, require execution via federal regulations. Agencies are often referred to as "regulatory" agencies, because they are empowered to create and enforce rules/regulations that execute the laws. Individuals and other entities can be fined, sanctioned, and criminally prosecuted for violating federal regulations.


EPA Regulations

Agencies & Departments


Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Bureau of Land Management or the Forest Service

National Oceanic and Atmosphere administration

Fish and Wildlife services of the department of the interior

National Marine Fisheries Service of the Department of Commerce



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