As a result of heightened public concerns about the environment in the 1970s, the federal government established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA’s general goal is to protect human and environmental health. To do so, they’ve established a plethora of laws and regulations over the years. Unfortunately, whether unintentional or otherwise, there are instances when these laws are broken. When this happens, unsuspecting communities can face life-changing consequences.
At McMath Woods P.A., our attorneys became involved in environmental litigation around the time of the EPA’s founding, when we represented neighbors of the Vertac facility in Jacksonville, Arkansas – a facility that made herbicides during the Vietnam War. Vertac is now known as one of the nation’s most hazardous waste sites, due to the burial of dioxin-contaminated drums.
Today, environmental litigation is even more complex as regulations change and accidents happen. If you’ve been injured as a result of preventable environmental pollution, you may have the right to seek compensation for your suffering. Our Little Rock environmental lawyers can help you achieve this. To learn more about your rights, let’s take a look at the ins and outs of environmental law.
What Is Environmental Law?
Environmental law, as discussed above, is a relatively new legal sector. In general terms, it refers to the protection of our natural resources and the regulations that impact them. This broad area of law encompasses a variety of issues involving the environment including water and air quality, waste management, hazardous waste, species protection, wetlands, energy sources, and more.
As environmental lawyers, our day-to-day duties vary. We may be meeting with clients, researching environmental legal developments, and educating the public about environmental law. When we’re working with individuals and communities on a case, we often take the following steps to help them prove their case:
- Analyze a variety of data on the environmental issue at hand
- Talk with experts about the data inside and outside of the courtroom
- Determine if there is sufficient evidence for a successful case
- Discuss both party’s rights and obligations
- Present a strong and compelling case for our clients
- Assess the damages sustained from the accident and suggest a fair compensation amount
What Types of Cases Fall Under Environmental Law?
While environmental law is broad, there are specific areas where a majority of the cases fall. Those categories, along with specific information on what claims may be involved, are listed below.
Many of the agricultural claims we see are a result of crop damage. Crop damages may happen if the seeds used are defective or diseased, the fungicides or pesticides used end up harming the target plant, or pesticides from spray drift harm the crops.
The effects related to crop damage can be severe. In addition to affecting the farmer and his income, communities may face shortages they were not expecting. Food shortages can cause grocery prices to rise. If the soil was damaged in addition to the crops, the agriculture produced from that area may not be the same for years.
Oil and Gas Pollution Claims
Oil and gas exploration activities can have detrimental effects on landowners and their communities. When drilling and fracturing fluids are not properly disposed of, properties, local bodies of water, and groundwater all face the risk of contamination.
Damage caused by oil is not always immediately noticeable; but even if the damage happened decades ago, victims have a right to seek justice.
Groundwater, the water found directly below the surface of the land, is where the majority of our drinking water comes from. In addition to using this water for human consumption, it is often used for agricultural purposes.
Groundwater pollution is often a result from the following sources: agricultural, commercial, industrial, or residential. Groundwater contamination is almost always a result of human activity. Because of this, it’s almost always preventable.
Groundwater pollution is often serious and possibly life-threatening. The majority of the effects are seen on peoples’ health, on the surrounding environment, and on the economy.
Individuals who drink contaminated water are likely to become ill and may require hospitalization. When the contaminated groundwater enters the ecosystem, there’s a chance the animals and plants will be negatively impacted. Groundwater pollution also costs individuals, communities, and the government a lot of money to treat and resolve the problem.
Even with the existence of the EPA, there are still instances where guidelines are not strict enough to protect our environment and families. Claims can be made against federal and state government agencies if it is believed they did not develop the proper mandates to protect the environment.
How Can an Arkansas Environmental Lawyer Help?
Since the 1970s, our firm has represented individuals, as well as entire communities in complex litigation involving air pollution, groundwater pollution, pesticide drift, oil and gas pollution, and other environmentally toxic exposures.
With our ever-evolving environmental laws, it’s important to hire an attorney who is willing to put the work into staying current and knowledgeable. At McMath Woods P.A., we’ve pioneered environmental litigation and will continue to represent affected residents. If you feel as though you’re a victim of pollution in Arkansas, our Little Rock environmental lawyers are prepared to help. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.