Today, organizations are faced with an option of enhancing sustainable operations in management of energy, water, materials, biodiversity, products, and transport. This has also led to the increase of costs in labor relations, occupational health, and safety. In pursuit of such services, there is a need for organizations to engage into the cost benefit analysis. One of the key determinants of sustainability in the government and non-government operations is an ability of such organizations to engage into the operations that minimize wastes and environmental degradation. The US government has over the years focused on the “green” operations in an effort to enhance sustainability of operations, and of the economy (Bahor, Van Brunt, Weits, Szuryot, 2010). Nevertheless, going green has had costs on the operations of the government.
In the recent past, there has been an increasing call for the sustainable operations in the accounting entities. Thus, sustainability practices have significantly increased, affecting the manner, in which individuals and the society manage their projects. Since such sustainability practices significantly affect the project management, there has been an increasing need to balance between the sustainability returns and costs. The At national level, the government has passed the laws that have significantly enabled businesses to balance between the cost of sustainability and the long term benefits associated with such sustainability. Since the passing of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, various changes have been made to the US environment policy (Deutsche Bank Research, 2008). In spite of this, its effectiveness in addressing environmental issues is still limited.
The act was established with an aim of encouraging productive and sustainable co-existence between man and the environment. It was aimed at enhancing welfare of mankind, while at the same time eliminating damage to the environment. The act, as well as the entire US policy, was established as a result of the Congress realization of the huge adverse impacts that human activities were putting on the environment. There were profound effects of the high level of urbanization, population growth, resource exploitation, as well as industrial expansions. There have also been increased technological advances in utilization of the resources, which have impacted the environment a significant way. The environmental policy of the US refers to the federal government’s action that impact on the environment (Deutsche Bank Research, 2008).
Over the years, the policy has evolved to not only protect the environment, but also to enhance the survival of future generations. This is to be achieved with minimal disturbances to the environment. Environmental policy of the US dates way back to the 1960’s, from the efforts of environmental movements in the US. This has led to the development of the various laws regulating water and air pollution among other factors. This has led to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As a result of the associated costs in environment protection, the policy lacks support from some political parties, as well as businesses (McGregor, David, 2010). This has led to reduced environmental budgets, which slow down environmental protection. This has led to the increased level of environmental degradation in the US. Environment policy in United States, thus, needs significant amendments, as well as increased implementation in order to enhance sustainability of the environment.
Under the Bush administration, there was an increased exploitation of public land in pursuit of oil and gas resources. Such efforts need to be curtailed in order to prevent degradation of the environment. There is a need for a more progressive policy on the environment in the US. There is also an increased need to enforce golden era policies on the environment. This will lead to the continued environmental protection from the golden era. Since 1990, the Congress has only passed the two main laws to extend green state. These laws are the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, and the California Desert Protection of 1994. The golden era legislations fail to adequately address the protection of wetlands, as well as water pollution. This implies that these laws need to be amended to include these areas. Transportation, as well as agriculture, have been carried out over the years in the US with minimal, if any, regard to the environmental impacts (McGregor, David, 2010).
In today’s environment, where there is an increased level of air pollution, the governments are putting measures, as well as policies, in place in order to ensure that the negative impacts of air pollution on the environment and health of individuals are significantly reduced. The federal government’s efforts in enhancing the quality of air in the US started in 1995, with the enacting of Air Pollution Control Act of 1955. Through this initiative, the state agencies were provided with the research, as well as training, funds in respect to the environmental protection. The standard for air quality was much enhanced with the adoption of the Clean Air Act (CAA) in 1963, and Air Quality Act in 1967. Today, the five categorized national air pollutants in US are particulate matter, lead, Sulphur oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide (Danish National Environmental Institute, 2004). Nevertheless, most of the policies addressing air pollution in the US have been implied, rather than explicit.
Today, the federal statutes have minimal, if any, guidance on reduction of the greenhouse emissions. Greenhouse emissions have been the biggest contributors to the global warming. Increased emissions to the environment lead to the increase in quantity of carbon and other greenhouse gases in the environment. These gases absorb the sun’s rays and heat, retaining such energy in the atmosphere. This leads to the increased global temperatures. This, in turn, leads to the increased number of floods and hurricanes, and change in the rainfall patterns among others. This makes the environment unsustainable for human survival. Global warming was not addressed during the environmental golden era between 1960’s and 1980’s (McGregor, David, 2010).This implies that the US government needs to develop the specific laws aimed at restricting the level of carbon emissions in all sectors of the economy. With the election of president Obama in 2008, there was a lot of hope among the environmentalists that cap-and-trade system would be enacted to facilitate regulation of carbon emissions. Unfortunately, the financial crisis, as well as partisan polarization of the Congress, hit the US. This has led to the diversion of attention from the environmental issues to the financial ones. The level of carbon emissions in the United States of America is as presented below.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has been in the forefront in ensuring compliance of organizations and individuals to the US environment policy in the various dimensions. This includes addressing water pollution issues as well. Various factors result to water pollution. For instance, when pesticides used in firms, get to the water sources, aquatic life is threatened. The policy in pesticides ensures that pollution from hazardous air pollutants is managed in a proper way. This offers guidelines as to the storage of pesticides, as well as their utilization. Individuals dealing with such chemicals are expected to maintain the rate of flow. They are also required to maintain records. Nevertheless, in spite of these provisions, it is clear that the provisions are not sufficient in preventing the flow of agricultural chemicals to the water sources. This implies that the US Environment Protection Agency needs to ensure that the chemicals used cause more benefit, than harm to the environment. This would be achieved through the promotion of usage of biodegradable pesticides and other firm chemicals; thus, reducing their ability to accumulate in the water bodies in the long run.
The US environmental policy has significantly reduced the level of water pollution from the point sources. This refers to the affluent from factory pipes or household’s waste water effluents. Nevertheless, the current environmental policy of the US fails to address non-point sources of pollution of the environment in an adequate manner. This forms the main source of water pollution. It emanates from agriculture, lawns, as well as parking lots among other places. The United States environmental policy, thus, needs to develop the relevant guidelines controlling water pollution from these activities. Chemicals are utilized in these activities and end up destroying the aquatic life, once they get to the water bodies. The Clean Water Act, thus, needs to be amended in order to incorporate the guidelines relating to water conservation and pollution management in respect to the non-point sources. This will lead to the treatment of agricultural and lawns water with specific guidelines, just as storm water is treated, as currently provided for by the Clean Water Act. Water quality and pollution is significantly influenced by the industrial operations, such as mining in the environment. Mining of hazardous minerals may result to environmental poisoning, if proper rehabilitation of sites is not done. EPA performs investigations on the clean-up of sites by the organizations dealing with oil mining among other products that may be dangerous to the environment. It also inspects the federal properties, as well as underground storage facilities for any potential exposure to the environment with hazardous chemicals. Oil storage tanks, either based above the ground or under the ground, are subject to the federal regulations, as well as to the state regulations. The regulation requires that those, operating such storage facilities, prevent spill. They are also required to establish ASTs systems to safeguard the facility against fire. While these regulations present the detailed approach in land inspection, it is clear that other sources of environmental degradation due to exposure to the hazardous materials are largely not addressed. For instance, deep sea mining of oil has led to destruction of the aquatic life. There is very little detailed guidelines on the operations of firms in such areas. Control measures are also minimal. The regulation, thus, needs to be enhanced in order to ensure that continuous controls are employed, especially in the oil mining.
The United States environment policy provides for the proper treatment of the hazardous wastes released in the industries, as well as in the organizations. Hazardous waste is defined as any waste that has properties, which makes it dangerous to the environment or to the human health. Hazardous waste is recognized if its level of ignitability, corrosiveness, reactivity, and toxicity characteristics are high. In spite of this definition, it is clear that hazardous waste products are of so many varieties, such that the provision may not be able to cover all wastes. This leaves the determination of whether waste is hazardous or not to the industries and individuals themselves. This leads to the increased exposure of the environment to the hazardous wastes. This implies that in implementation of the policy, industry- or organization-specific hazardous wastes should be identified, and the ways of dealing with such wastes customized to the operations of the organization. The policy needs to put economic incentives in waste management in order to ensure that industries and organizations benefit from their efforts to disclose waste levels, as well as in the development of disposal facilities and mechanisms (Field, 2005).
From the above study, it is clear that one of the governments has incurred huge costs in an effort to make the economy “green”. The main focus by the government has been on the passage of laws that guide both government agencies and the private sector on the ways to minimize environmental degradation and adverse effects to the environment and the society at large. The government has classified the hazardous wastes and the ways the organizations are supposed to treat such wastes. This will significantly boost “green” operations in the organizations. At the governmental level, the main approach taken is mainly policy development and implementation.