Sabin Center for Climate Change Law
Many environmental statutes were enacted, or at least spurred along, in direct response to disasters. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 followed from the Santa Barbara Oil Spill; the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) resulted from the chemical gas disaster in Bhopal, India; the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) was sparked by the Love Canal incident; and the Oil Pollution Acte was a reaction to the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have led to the Homeland Security Act and to several other enactments. The collapse of the World Trade Center was perhaps the greatest disaster in the history of New York, and some of the regulatory changes that flowed from these events have reflected the environmental implications. But that horrible day should also lead to lessons that have still greater ramifications for environmental law.
Michael B. Gerrard,
Disasters First: Rethinking Environmental Law After September 11,
Widener L. Symp. J.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/faculty_scholarship/702