What is the Department of Environmental Management?

Josie Myers
Josie Myers
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

Most states have a Department of Environmental Management that handles environmental concerns unique to their state. It is usually tasked with preserving the quality of the environment, and protecting the health and safety of the citizens as they relate to natural resources. These state-level departments are not to be confused with the Federal Office of Environmental Management, an entity within the Department of Energy that specifically handles the proper cleanup of nuclear waste.

A Department of Environmental Management works to protect any natural resources that a state possesses. Keeping the air and water clean are some of their largest concerns, but there are many smaller tasks that go into this larger goal. Maintaining a healthy ecosystem, including plant and wildlife, is an important part of their duties. This is achieved by protecting areas like open space and watersheds.

Since industry can greatly affect the state of the environment, a Department of Environmental Management must work with local businesses. The Department teaches industries the safest and most responsible ways to use natural resources to their advantage and to encourages them to develop clean, environmentally friendly practices. They also encourage and protect agriculture and farming.

In many situations, the Department of Environmental Management is responsible for outdoor recreation activities and facilities. In some states, they handle the maintenance of beaches and rivers, which includes licensing of boats. These departments also may monitor wildlife populations, which can include setting the rules for hunting and fishing. Many departments also run educational programs for the community or send speakers to local schools and community centers.

Since the Department follows local environmental concerns very closely, many states rely on it to recommend laws for environmental protection. These laws generally follow a three point pattern: identify any harmful activities, determine the conditions under which those activities can be performed, and prohibit the activity from being performed if those conditions are not met. Special officers are often employed by the Department of Environmental Management for enforcement of those laws, and investigation into activities that allegedly break them.

The United States Office of Environmental Management is an offshoot of the Department of Energy. It is sometimes confused with a Department of Environmental Management since the name is so similar. The Office of Environmental Management was formed in 1989 and exclusively deals with the safe cleanup of nuclear waste from power plants and nuclear weapons testing. The closest federal equivalent to a state-level Department of Environmental Management would be the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), whose mission since 1970 has been "to protect human health and the environment."

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