CBA Record November-December 2021

District of Greater Chicago, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the collaborative efforts of businesses, non-profit organizations, and other community partners. Federal, state, and local laws, regu- lations, and ordinances have played a critical role in these efforts. These laws aim to protect the air, water, and land through a complicated regulatory frame- work that controls environmental issues arising from today’s operations and also dictates how historical environmental contamination will be cleaned up. The command-and-control environmental regulatory programs are supported by aggressive administrative, civil, and criminal enforcement allowing federal, state, and local governmental entities to take swift action to punish those who fail to comply.

Environmental law plays an impor- tant role in protecting the environment and natural resources. Environmental law considerations are essential ele- ments of community redevelopment and economic growth plans, business expansions in the U.S. and internation- ally, emergency preparedness, and public and workplace health and safety. This practice area has evolved far beyond its “dirty dirt, dirty water” origins to become a part of almost every aspect of our daily personal and professional lives. Lawyers and the clients we serve are impacted by a myriad of environmental matters, and some baseline understanding of the legal framework, policy considerations, public sentiment, and environmental concerns in our own communities will make us better able to do our jobs. Protection of the environment and natural resources is in our collective

best interests. Environmental protection arises from the day-to-day collaborative efforts of business, government, and individuals focused on control of current environmental matters, management of legacy concerns, and, most important, decisions about the future that will make a difference in the lives of our children and grandchildren. While it is unlikely that another reversal of the Chicago River is imminent given the estimated costs of $18 trillion, all of us can aid in and sup- port the improvement of Chicagoland’s water quality to mitigate “floods, carp, and crap” arising from continuing down- stream wastewater discharges. As lawyers, we can have a positive impact on protecting the environment by developing an improved understanding of how environmental laws affect us all.

INTRODUCING Robert C. O’Brien, U.S. Ambassador, Retired

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