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Law Library of Congress Report Highlights Recent Updates in UK and US Environmental Law

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The following is a guest post by Louis Myers, a legal reference librarian at the Law Library of Congress. Louis has authored several blog posts for In Custodia Legis, including New Acquisition: The Trial of Governor Picton, A Case of Torture in Trinidad, Indigenous Law Research Strategies: Settlement Acts and Looking into the Past: Space Telescopes and the Law of Outer Space.

The Law Library of Congress recently published its report, Comparative Recent Developments in Environmental Law, which explores recent updates to post-Brexit UK law and recent developments in U.S. law during the Biden administration. The report focuses on two of the major aspects of environmental protection: clean air and clean water. The report, co-authored by Carson Lloyd, includes an overview of recent executive, legislative, and judicial approaches to environmental law from each country.

Title page of the Law Library’s report “United States and United Kingdom : comparative recent developments in environmental law”

The U.S. portion of the report focused on developments in air and water quality stemming from the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts respectively and international cooperation from the U.S. perspective. For the United Kingdom (UK) portion of the report, the focus was on the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union (Brexit), the recently passed Environment Act of 2021, and its influence on both water and air quality.

The report begins with an introduction of the general environmental legal framework for each jurisdiction and then proceeds into a more in-depth analysis of recent legal developments. In the U.S., the report highlights the recent Supreme Court of the United States decision, West Virginia v. EPA, which dealt with the Clean Air Act. It also looked at several district court and appellate court decisions under the Clean Water Act. On the UK side, the report looks at the effect of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. Of note, all EU environmental provisions previously in force in the UK became nullified as a result of Brexit. The UK passed the Environmental Act of 2021 to ensure there would still be environmental protection laws. This section of the report explains how the executive (secretary of state) is responsible for providing regulations and guidance for the implementation of the 2021 Act.

This report is an addition to the Law Library’s Legal Reports (Publications of the Law Library of Congress) collection, which includes over 3,000 legal reports covering a variety of jurisdictions, researched and written by foreign legal specialists with expertise in each area.

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