Pollution is a matter of observation, impression, and definition. Although arguments exist about the amounts of pollution in the air and in the ground and the effects of various pollutants on the ecosystem, including Homo sapiens, most people would agree that the world's population has increased in a dramatic fashion in the last 150 years, that people produce waste, and that waste sometimes accumulates to the point of being harmful, either aesthetically or physically, or both.
Pollution can be defined as contamination of the environment (ecosystem) such that the individual components in the ecosystem are not capable of serving their intended function. For example, we can discharge contaminates into a river to a point where fish can no longer live. Similarly, anthropological emissions entering the atmosphere can make air unhealthy to breathe. Sufficient citizen complaints result in Congress adopting statutes designed to temper or remove the pollution problem. Unfortunately, Congress sometimes looks for a political rather than a scientific solution to the pollution problem. Accordingly, many statutes are vague and, as with the Clean Air Act, include exemptions designed to avoid economically harming the financially powerful sector of the constituency.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) interprets a statute by writing federal regulations. Implementation of federal regulations can vary among states depending on differing economic and political pressures within the states. For example, the Petroleum Extraction Industry is prohibited by "permit" from discharging any polluted waters into the Waters of the U.S. from any onshore facilities located in Louisiana,New Mexico,Oklahoma
Figures & Tables
Introduction to Environmental Hydrogeology
These notes have been written to supply supporting material for a “short course” introduction to environmental hydrogeology. The assumption is that most people who take the short course (or purchase the notes without taking the short course) will be geologists, although the information could be useful to engineers or other scientists who desire an introduction to environmental consulting in general, or hydrogeology in particular. The notes, and course, are an introduction – a partial survey - of some aspects of environmental geology, with particular reference to subsurface hydrogeology and remediation of sites contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons. No claim of completeness is made. Regulatory programs vary from state to state. The regulatory framework used in the state of New York is sometimes given as an example. The reader should be aware that rules and procedures may differ in other states.