Blanketed by invasive algae is seen in the foreground with surrounding mountains, Kaneohe Bay, Oíahu, Hawai'i.
Coral patch blanketed by invasive algae in Kaneohe Bay, Hawai'i. © Ian Shive

Policy

Environmental and Conservation Laws

The foundation of cleaner water and healthier lands in America.

Generations of Americans have benefited from the nation’s legacy of leadership in conservation and environmental laws, which should be upheld and enhanced.

Foundational Laws for Lands, Waters and Air in the United States

Environmental laws adopted over the last five decades in the United States have dramatically improved the quality of the nation’s air and water, reduced the public’s exposure to harmful chemicals, given the public a greater voice in government decisions and conserved fish, wildlife and other natural resources.

Generations of Americans have benefited from this legacy of leadership in environmental protection. However, these gains have not been free of controversy. Environmental regulation is complex, sometimes burdensome for regulated groups and, increasingly, the focus of intense partisan debate.

The administration and Congress may consider a range of proposals that could alter the key elements of the nation’s environmental laws. The critical challenge is to identify foundational environmental and conservation laws that merit The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) strongest defense while at the same time being open to ideas that allow environmental laws and regulations to evolve in response to changing national needs and public views. These laws and their implementing regulations provide the foundations, incentives, protections or other provisions that support TNC’s conservation mission.

Key Challenge: Upholding and Enhancing Laws for Future Generations

TNC is working to uphold the foundational laws, regulations and other legal provisions that underpin basic environmental and conservation values while also identifying and supporting efforts to improve relevant processes and outcomes.

To meet this challenge, TNC will weigh how a policy enhances or undermines the shared strengths of core environmental laws. TNC will continue its role as a leading advocate for federal and state funding to support implementation and enforcement of environmental laws and regulations across the United States.

A baby Kemp's ridley sea turtle is released and headed for the ocean. They are the rarest species of sea turtle and listed as critically endangered.
Baby Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle A baby Kemp's ridley sea turtle is released and headed for the ocean. They are the rarest species of sea turtle and listed as critically endangered. © Carlton Ward Jr.

Foundational Environmental and Conservation Laws:

Santa Cruz Island is a leading example for successful island restoration and innovative conservation.
Santa Cruz Island Fox Santa Cruz Island is a leading example for successful island restoration and innovative conservation. © Ian Shive

While U.S. environmental laws and statutes have made profound contributions to the health and safety of people; the protection of lands, water, oceans and wildlife; and the enhancement of science, their implementation has also been selectively criticized.