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environmental law

principles, policies, directives, and regulations enacted and enforced by local, national, or international entities to regulate human treatment of the nonhuman world. The vast field covers a broad range of topics in diverse legal settings, such as state bottle-return laws in the United States, regulatory standards for emissions from coal-fired power plants in Germany, initiatives in China to create a "Green Great Wall"-a shelter belt of trees-to protect Beijing from sandstorms, and international treaties for the protection of biological diversity and the ozonosphere. During the late 20th century environmental law developed from a modest adjunct of the law of public health regulations into an almost universally recognized independent field protecting both human health and nonhuman nature.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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