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Environmental and Energy Laws
The Environment Protection Agency offers a list of, and links to, major environmental laws and regulations. There is no 'one stop shop' for a a list of, and links to, major laws in relation to energy. Checking the US Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission can provide some routes, although the Bush years saw significant deregulation in the energy field.
For searching for all federal laws, including those on energy and the environment, the US Office of Law Revision Counsel prepares and publishes the United States Code, which is a consolidation and codification by subject matter of the general and permanent laws of the United States - i.e. only federal laws. A more user-friendly interface is offered by Cornell University Law School's Legal Information Institute search facility.
To remind oneself of how the legislative process works and how bills become laws, the Library of Congress -Thomas site provides a explanation of how laws are made (PDF version here); a shorter outline is available through a wikipedia article.
The Library of Congress -Thomas site also offers a variety of search filters to search for legislation that has been enacted, passed or is current.
Another route is to view the legislative record through the Congressional Record which provides the official record of debates and hearings of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. GovTrak not only tracks legislation but also provides the opportunity to debate legislative issues and to explore resources relating to the Congress.
It is also useful to consult the files of the Committees of the House of Representatives and Senate where you can find details of legislation passed, under debate, as well as records. In some cases webcasts of hearings are available.
The full listings of House of Representative Committees and Senate Committees are starting points for following legislation, but we have selected the major relevant Committees of both Houses of Congress below.
House of Representatives Committees
The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming was established in 2007 by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi to "provide urgency and resources" to address the "challenges of oil dependency and global warming." Its sole authority is the investigation and development of recommendations on policies, strategies and innovations regarding these two issues; it does not have legislative jurisdiction or authority. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has legislative authority and a wide jurisdiction including interstate energy compacts, energy production, supply, marketing, pricing, and regulation of energy resources, including the domestic nuclear energy industry as well as conservation. Relevant subcommittees
The House Committee on Science and Technology was established in 1957 in the wake of the launch of Sputnik. Its jurisdiction includes oversight of all energy and environmenal research as well as the National Weather Service. Relevant subcommittee
The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry is a standing committee and has broad jurisdiction. This information is accessible from the Committee Home Page by selecting Subcommittees. Jurisdiction is over most areas of farming and rural life, including sustainable food production, agricultural trade, income and commodity support as well as renewable energy production and efficiency on farms.
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has jurisdiction covering a wide range of energy issues, including international energy affairs, climate change, nuclear, coal and synthetic fuels research and development, and energy commercialization projects. The Subcommittee on Energy, listed below, has particular relevance for important energy policies. Relevant Subcommittees
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has jurisdiction over broad environmental policy, including global warming as well as particular interests in air (Clean Air Act), water and noise pollution, recycling, flood control, The Tennessee Valley Authority, public works and buildings, and environmental justice. Relevant subcommittees
- Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Superfund and Environmental Health
- Transportation and Infrastructure
- Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security, and Water Quality
- Public Sector Solutions to Global Warming, Oversight, and Children’s Health Protection
- Private Sector and Consumer Solutions to Global Warming and Wildlife Protection
The Executive Branch
To follow through the activities of the Executive Branch, it is pertinent to check the US State executive agencies, boards, commissions and committees listed on that site as well as the White House site of the Presidential Office. For those tracking these sites, the change from the Bush to the Obama administration is clearly marked: in the perspectives, the priorities and the tone of the agenda set.
Relevant Executive Agencies and Commissions
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Energy
- Department of Interior
- Department of Transport
- Environmental Protection Agency
- US Nuclear Regulatory Commission
The Judicial Branch
The ultimate arbiter of the constitutionality of laws enacted and actions undertaken by both federal and local governments is the Supreme Court. You can search via the Supreme Court's own website or with the more user-friendly interface of Cornell University Law School's Legal Information Institute's searching facility.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is intended for educational use and offered as a public service. Any views expressed should not be understood as representing or reflecting the views of Democrats Abroad UK, Democrats Abroad or the Democratic Party of the United States.
Links to other organizations or publications imply neither endorsement of their policies nor any association with the Democratic Party or Democrats Abroad - UK
Produced by Elaine C, Elaine E and Robin M