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Conservation: The Range Of Public Involvement In Environmental Enforcement

  • Date Submitted: 02/18/2013 10:28 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 15.5 
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THE RANGE OF PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT IN ENVIRONMENTAL ENFORCEMENT

            Avenues for public participation in enforcement are many and varied.   Some require special expertise, and some require only energy and common sense.   Some involve working alongside the government, some place the citizen in the shoes of the government, and some call for citizens to oppose the government's activities.   Some require extensive financial expenditures, and some cost only time.   Separately or in concert, these mechanisms can help to effectuate compliance with environmental controls.

2.1             Collecting Information for Use in Enforcement

            On the most basic level, citizens can use their eyes and ears to identify areas in need of further regulation and to monitor compliance in areas already regulated. (10) Individuals are uniquely qualified for this role.   As ever-present observers in their local communities, citizens are particularly good at identifying unusual occurrences.   They may, for example, notice the presence of an oil sheen on a river, an unusually serious emission from a smokestack, or the activity of a developer in a swamp.   These occurrences might escape the government enforcer unfamiliar with community conditions and unequipped to perform frequent field investigations.   Citizen monitoring can occur informally, as a result of chance observations of individuals in their communities.   Citizens can also monitor on a more regular basis through community, regional, or national environmental organizations.
Such citizen participation in information-gathering and reporting efforts is critical if enforcement goals are to be met.   The sheer size of environmental problems and the increasing demands on limited government resources combine to make environmental agencies woefully unequipped to perform all necessary investigatory and monitoring duties.   In the United States, for example, over 60,000 permits have been issued under the Clean Water Act alone --...

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