Assessing Natural Resources and
The Impact of Environmental Regulations
Dr. David Terrell
Warner Pacific College
June 9, 2011
As a society, the depletion of our natural resources and pollution of our environment has become an issue of great concern in the past few decades, more than ever before. From the kitchen table to government committees, we are paying closer attention to how we can take care of the earth and our lives through prudent use of our natural resources.
Effective assessment of our natural resources is the cornerstone of forming any movement to protect them. Natural Resources, as defined by the United States Geological Survey, are “water, minerals, coal, oil, gas, living things, and the land itself” (Assessing Our Natural Resources, 2005).
Through the years, technology has made great strides in our ability to observe and measure our natural resources, both their depletion and how effective programs are in preserving them. Technology such as the Geographic Information System provides an invaluable tool with which scientist can map, track and predict the depletion and restoration of our natural resources.
However, some assessments are still done in the most rudimentary fashion. For the purpose of this paper let us examine the counting of salmon, and other fish in the salmon family, along the rivers in our region. The decline and restoration of our salmon population has been a long standing environmental concern and effective assessment of this population is key. This assessment however, at its origin, is not done by computers, but rather by human hand.
At 8 dams located throughout the region (Bonneville, The Dalles, John Day, McNary,
Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite), fish ladders are present. As the fish move through these ladders a single person, located in a viewing room, counts the types of salmon family fish which come through each day (Building Strong, 2011)
From this data, the US Army Corps of Engineers then uses mathematical formulas, and of course computers to track our salmon population. This also allows us, as a society, to assess the effectiveness of current programs to preserve the salmon and what additional steps may need to be taken.
Looking at another area of environmental concern, let us examine the question of how environmental regulations impact our cultural and lifestyles. To do so, it would be wise to start with the work done through the US government’s Environmental Protection Agency.
The Environmental Protection Agency provides environmental regulations on a federal level. It is fair to say that on a large scale, these regulations improve the quality of our lives. By providing laws which hold industry and agriculture accountable for their impact on our most crucial environmental areas, air and water, the EPA has consistently made our country a better place to live.
As an example let us examine The Clean Air Act, which started as The Air Pollution Control Act of 1955. This first version established funds for the United States government to research air pollution. In 1963 The Clean Air Act was established as our government’s first voyage into air pollution control. In 1967 the Air Quality Act was enacted to expand federal activities in this area.
The original Clean Air Act has received many amendments over the years. These amendments, as well as the base act, have established standards and practices in our country to monitor pollutant heavy industry and consumer use. A great example is the requirements for control of motor vehicle emissions in the 1970 act. In the 1990 amendments, a program was established to phase out the use of chemicals that deplete the ozone layer. (History of the Clean Air Act, 2010).
Of course, these regulation do cost consumers more in the way of taxes, fees and end product consumer prices, in my opinion, having cleaner air to breath is invaluable.
It is clear that as a society, the protection of our natural resources is crucial. This protection begins at the basic level of assessment, or understanding of what we have and where the problem areas exist. From this data, our country, and hopefully all world governments, can work to regulate and manage our resources in an effective manner.
Assessing Our Natural Resources. (2005, July 20). Retrieved June 7, 2011, from USGS science for a
changing world: http://www.usgs.gov/themes/factsheet/094-99/index.html
Building Strong. (2011, June 6). Retrieved June 6, 2011, from US Army Corps of Engineers:
History of the Clean Air Act. (2010, November 16). Retrieved June 6, 2011, from U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency: www.//www.epa.gov/air/caa/caa_history.html