12 Conservation Policies

Colby Moorberg, Ryan Burns, Michaela Falk, Mikayla Leakey, Alec Lester, Charles Sasscer, and Jake Ziggafoos

Abbreviations

ARS – Agriculture Research Service
CAFO – Confined Animal Feeding Operation
CDC – Center for Disease Control
EPA – US Environmental Protection Agency
FQPA – Food Quality Protection Act
NPDES – National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
NPS – National Park Service
PDF – Portable Document Format
SARA – Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act
URL – Uniform Resource Locator
US – United States
USACE – US Army Corps of Engineers
WOTUS – Waters of the United States

Clean Air Act

Smog over the Los Angeles skyline in 1973
Smog over the city of Los Angeles skyline in 1973. Photograph by Gene Daniels, courtesy of the US EPA.

US EPA. 2015d, May 29. The Clean Air Act in a Nutshell: How It Works. https://www.epa.gov/clean-air-act-overview/clean-air-act-nutshell-how-it-works.

This overview of the Clean Air Act explains how it addressed pollution problems and summarizes key cross-cutting provisions. Topics include hazardous air pollutants, visibility in national parks, acid rain, stratospheric ozone layer, pollution causing climate change, operating permits, enforcement, relationships to state clean air laws.

US EPA. 2015a, February 27. Overview of the Clean Air Act and Air Pollution. https://www.epa.gov/clean-air-act-overview.

This website provides an overview of the Clean Air Act. It includes access to the full text of the act, an overview of how it works and is enforced, its history, and achievements since the act was passed in 1963.

US EPA. 2015b, May 27. Clean Air Act Requirements and History. https://www.epa.gov/clean-air-act-overview/clean-air-act-requirements-and-history.

In 1970, Congress voted the Clean Air Act into law. The act requires the EPA to establish air quality standards based on the latest science. The EPA must monitor and reduce criteria air pollutants, pollutants that can harm health and environment and cause property damage. Congress made major revisions in 1977 and 1990 to address regional haze, acid rain, and the depletion of the ozone layer as well as other air pollution problems.

US EPA. 2015c May 29. Clean Air Act Text. https://www.epa.gov/clean-air-act-overview/clean-air-act-text.

This EPA web page includes an introduction to the Clean Air Act, followed by a table of contents to each of the six titles within the act with links to the text of each title.

The Clean Water Act

 

Algae from a farm pond
Algae bloom in a small farm pond. Photo courtesy of SoilScience.info.

EPA Office of Water. 2019, February 20. Introduction to the Clean Water Act. https://cfpub.epa.gov/watertrain/moduleFrame.cfm?module_id=69&parent_object_id=2569&object_id=2569.

This learning module from the EPA Watershed Academy provides an overview of the Clean Water Act. The module was designed for watershed managers but is relevant to broader audiences as well. The module includes 78 slides and links to relevant resources like the full text of the Clean Water Act. The module is one of 15 required for those interested in being certified in watershed management.

Mulligan, S. P. 2019. Evolution of the Meaning of “Waters of the United States” in the Clean Water Act. 42. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R44585.

This report from the Congressional Research Service written for members of Congress provides an overview of the term Waters of the United States (WOTUS), as it has been interpreted by all three branches of government over time.

Rogers, D. H. 2013. Water Primer: Part 5, Water Law. 8. Manhattan, KS: Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service. https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Item.aspx?catId=363&pubId=15859.

This extension publication from Kansas State University covers water law that governs groundwater and surface water use in the state of Kansas. It covers the Kansas Water Appropriation Act, the Kansas Groundwater Management District Act, interstate compacts, water rights, federal water policy, and environmental laws affecting water.

USACE, and US EPA. 2015. Definition of “Waters of the United States,” 80 Fed. Federal Register 80(124):37054–37127. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2015/06/29/2015-13435/clean-water-rule-definition-of-waters-of-the-united-states.

This Federal Register publication is the text of the 2015 Clean Water Rule as proposed by the US EPA and USACE during the Obama administration.

USACE, and US EPA. 2019. Revised Definition of “Waters of the United States.” Federal Register 84(31):4154–4220. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/02/14/2019-00791/revised-definition-of-waters-of-the-united-states.

This Federal Register publication is the text of the 2019 Clean Water Rule as proposed by the US EPA and USACE during the Trump administration.

US EPA. 2013, February 22. History of the Clean Water Act. https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/history-clean-water-act.

This web page from the EPA provides a brief history of the Clean Water Act. It also includes links to the text of the Clean Water Act, a summary of the act, and more.

Regulation of Wetlands

Gatz, L., and M. Stubbs. 2017. Wetlands: An Overview of Issues. 28. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R44585.

This report from the Congressional Research Service written for members of Congress provides an overview of issues related to wetland regulation. The report summarizes wetland science, selected federal wetlands programs, state protection programs, and wetland restoration and mitigation.

Johnson, S. M. 2015. Wetlands Law: A Course Source. The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction eLangdell Press. https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/textbooks/wetlands-law-a-course-source.

This course source on wetlands law serves as a textbook for law students and covers all aspects of wetlands law in the US. It is an open-access textbook. Chapters cover the science; history of regulation; administrative law; regulations of waters of the US; additions and discharges; section 404 permits; mitigation; EPA’s role; state roles and programs; appeals, review, and enforcement; and regulatory takings.

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System

US EPA. 2014, November 3. Supplemental Module: NPDES Permit Program. https://www.epa.gov/wqs-tech/supplemental-module-npdes-permit-program.

This learning module from the EPA Watershed Academy provides an overview of the NPDES. It is designed for watershed managers but is relevant to broader audiences as well. The module covers all aspects of the permitting process. The module is one of 15 required for those interested in being certified in watershed management.

US EPA. 2014, August 6. National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). https://www.epa.gov/npdes.

This is the home web page for the NPDES; the system was formed as part of the Clean Water Act to regulate point-source pollution discharges to Waters of the United States. The page provides links to information about the NPDES, program areas, and technical resources.

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations

Three hog confinement buildings surrounded by green fields
Hog confinements in Wisconsin. Photograph by Bob Nichols, courtesy of the USDA NRCS.

Hribar, C. 2010. Understanding Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and Their Impact on Communities. 30. Bowling Green, OH: National Association of Local Boards of Health. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3DK7qlkmPsTg6D8CGoDnrLQfjOvvkekIP34AHQvD47ugqTR9RvwDOmqpU.

This CDC sponsored manual explores the specifications, history, and benefits of CAFOs. It then summarizes environmental health effects that CAFOs have on groundwater, surface water, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, odors, insect vectors, pathogens, antibiotics, and property values. This overall review of CAFOs further provides case studies reviewing right-to-farm laws and Board of Health involvement. Regulatory definitions are also provided for small, medium, and large CAFOs.

Overcash, E. 2011. Detailed Discussion of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. https://www.animallaw.info/article/detailed-discussion-concentrated-animal-feeding-operations.

This legal summary covers the basic definitions of CAFOs and then reviews the definition, conditions, and locations of CAFOs. Animal, environmental, and human concerns arising from CAFOs are discussed. Legislation is broken into federal laws, state animal welfare measures, and subjects of CAFO measures. Finally, pending legislation concerning CAFOs are presented.

US EPA Office of Water. 2010. Implementation Guidance on CAFO Regulations – CAFOs That Discharge or Are Proposing to Discharge. 15. Washington, D.C.: US EPA. https://www3.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/cafo_implementation_guidance.pdf.

This EPA publication provides guidance on implementing the 2008 CAFO rule on how to comply with the regulations. It provides an overview of regulatory requirements, discusses the key elements of an objective assessment, and covers all animal sectors including the dairy, beef cattle, swine, and poultry sectors. Waste storage and handling, mortality management, and land application areas are also covered in this publication. The URL offers a direct download of a PDF of this resource.

USDA NRCS. 2019a. Animal Feeding Operations. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/plantsanimals/livestock/afo/.

This NRCS overview covers the specifications for an animal feeding operation to qualify as a CAFO. It also explores how the NRCS can assist a producer to better comply with CAFO regulations. Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMP) are also covered in detail along with guidance documents and handbooks. Feed management for CAFOs is the final point discussed.

USDA NRCS. 2019b. Animal Feeding Operations – Publications. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/plantsanimals/livestock/afo/pub/.

This USDA NRCS web page provides links to various government publications relevant to animal feeding operations. Topics include animal management, manure and waste management, feed management, and pathogen management.

The Farm Bills

Conway, K. M. 2018. H.R.2 – 115th Congress (2017-2018): Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2/text.

The most recent farm bill, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, can be viewed on this web page on Congress.gov. The lead sponsor was Representative Conway. Tabs on the page indicate a summary, text, actions, titles, amendments, and related bills, among others.

Johnson, R., and J. Monke. 2019. What is the Farm Bill? 17. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RS22131.pdf.

This brief from the Congressional Research Service written for members of Congress provides an overview of the farm bill which includes a history of the farm bill in a timeline and a pie chart depicting money allotted to each section of the bill. The brief summarizes each of the 12 sections in the most recent farm bills. A new farm bill is typically passed once every five to six years. The URL offers a direct download of a PDF of this resource.

The National Agricultural Law Center. 2019. United States Farm Bills. https://nationalaglawcenter.org/farmbills/.

This web page from the National Agricultural Law Center lists all the farm bills in the history of the US. Links are provided to each of the bills via Congress.gov where each farm bill can be read. The National Agricultural Law Center was created by Congress in 1987 and receives funding through appropriations from the USDA ARS National Agricultural Library.

USDA NRCS. 2019. Farm Bill. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/farmbill/.

This web page from the USDA NRCS lists and summarizes conservation programs included in the 2018 farm bill. It also includes a link to download the brochure, “Farmers’ Guide to 2018 Farm Bill Programs” as a PDF. Links to additional farm bill programs and other resources are also included at the bottom of the page.

The Food Quality Protection Act

US EPA. 2006, August 3. Accomplishments under the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA). https://archive.epa.gov/pesticides/regulating/laws/fqpa/web/html/fqpa_accomplishments.html.

This web page highlights accomplishments achieved through the Food Quality Protection Act through 2006 for the ten years since the law was passed with bipartisan support in 1996. The page presents challenges in implementing and comprehending the pesticide and food safety laws. The FQPA changed many safety regulations and evaluated pesticide risks involving infants and children. The web page also states that other protective measures were required to assess aggregate effect on the exposure to pesticides in food and water. Reassessments have been constant ever since the act was passed in 1996. The page is in the EPA’s web archive.

US EPA. 2015, September 4. Summary of the Food Quality Protection Act. https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-food-quality-protection-act.

This web page summarizes the FQPA. It also includes a link to download a PDF of the FQPA, as well as links to more information on registering reduced risk pesticides, minor use pesticides, public health pest designation, registration of antimicrobial pesticides, endocrine disruptor screening, and registration review of pesticides.

US EPA. 2016, February 22. Implementation of Requirements under FQPA. https://archive.epa.gov/pesticides/regulating/laws/fqpa/web/html/fqpa_implementation.html.

This web page explains how the FQPA was implemented by the EPA. It highlights some of the main provisions in the law. The page includes information on improved health standards for food communities, reduced risk pesticides, minor uses, public health pesticides, antimicrobial reform, endocrine disruption, registration review, fee collection, USDA initiatives, integrated pest management, harmonizing standards and requirements, consumer right-to-know, and performance reports.

The Homestead Acts

History.com Editors. 2019, September 3. Homestead Act. https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/homestead-act.

This web page from the History Channel highlights important information about the 1862 Homestead Act, including why the Homestead Act was passed, how people applied for a homestead, how speculators took advantage of the Homestead Act, and the act’s end and repeal. The Homestead Act was signed into law by President Lincoln in 1862. It allowed people to apply for a homestead, and if they met certain requirements, they could take ownership of the land. There were people who took advantage of the act, as outlined on this web page. The act was repealed with the passage of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976.

National Archives and Records Administration, Office of the Federal Register. 4/1/1985-. 1862. Act of May 20, 1862 (Homestead Act). Statute 392 4. https://catalog.archives.gov/id/299815.

This web page from the National Archives Catalog displays a scanned copy of each of the four original pages of the Act of May 20, 1862, more commonly known as the Homestead Act of 1862. The documents are handwritten and somewhat difficult to read. No transcript is provided on this web page.

NPS. 2019a, September 19. Homesteading Significance. https://www.nps.gov/home/learn/historyculture/homesteading-significance.htm.

This web page from the National Park Service Homestead National Monument of America website concisely describes the importance of the Homestead Act. It goes into further detail on its importance to Nebraska; this monument is in southeast Nebraska in the city of Beatrice.

NPS. 2019b, September 20. About the Homestead Act. https://www.nps.gov/home/learn/historyculture/abouthomesteadactlaw.htm.

This web page from the Homestead National Monument of America describes the history, impact, and effectiveness of the Homestead Act of 1862. The page also highlights the creation of the Homestead National Monument, a monument that commemorates the early pioneers who used the Homestead Act to acquire land and what they encountered while homesteading.

NPS. 2019c, September 20. Homesteading by the Numbers. https://www.nps.gov/home/learn/historyculture/bynumbers.htm.

This web page from the Homestead National Monument of America highlights facts about homesteading, the Homestead Act of 1862, and the Homestead National Monument of America. It also includes links to PDFs that break down homesteading statistics by state.

OurDocuments.gov. 2019. Homestead Act (1862). https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=31.

This web page from OurDocuments.gov highlights the importance of the Homestead Act of 1862 and includes a transcript of the law.

The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act

A EPA Superfund cleanup site sign on a chainlink fence
Fadrowski Drum Disposal EPA Superfund site in Franklin, Wisconsin. Photograph by Markzvo.

US EPA. 2014, July 11. Superfund. https://www.epa.gov/superfund.

This web page for the Superfund program of the EPA provides links to information about Superfund, Superfund task force, community involvement, accomplishments and benefits, cleaning up sites, clean up support, additional resources, contaminants, and contaminated media.

US EPA. 2015, September 9. The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA). https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-amendments-and-reauthorization-act-sara.

This EPA web page provides an overview of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act, passed in 1986 to amend the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980.

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Soil and Water Conservation: An Annotated Bibliography by Colby Moorberg, Ryan Burns, Michaela Falk, Mikayla Leakey, Alec Lester, Charles Sasscer, and Jake Ziggafoos is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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