Geology 451

GEOL 451

Catalog Entry

GEOL 451. Regulatory Issues in Environmental Geology
Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisites: GEOL 474 (Hydrogeology) and Senior standing or consent of the instructor.

This course investigates the societal and regulatory framework within which much of the professional practice of environmental geology occurs. The relevant current and developing legislation will be addressed, along with the roles of federal, state, and municipal authorities in promulgation of the law. Class discussions and assignments will emphasize the functions of the practicing professional geologist in the various research, regulatory, and consulting roles related to environmental regulation.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

The focus of this class is in making the connection between the technical aspects of environmental geology and the legal and social framework within which the professional geologist must work. Major federal and state legislation related to environmental impacts of mining, waste disposal, water quality preservation, contaminant remediation, and geologic aspects of land-use planning among other issues will be treated in considerable detail. The role of engineering and environmental geologists in the regulatory development and compliance process will be emphasized.

Specific topics addressed include, but are not limited to:

1) National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Environmental Assessments (EA's), Environmental Impact Statements (EIS's), and related documents and processes
2) Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Superfund process
3) federal land management requirements and responsibilities
4) Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA, Clean Water Act) and related regulations {e.g. National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) process}
5) environmental geology activities in relation to the Endangered Species Act
6) drinking water protection regulation and related management activities
7) Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and related waste-management regulations
8) Virginia (and to some extent other state) regulatory actions in response to, and in addition to, federal mandates

In each case considerable attention is focused on the different participants in the development, compliance, and enforcement of the regulations. The importance and function of public education, public disclosure, and public participation in the regulatory process and the related roles of the practicing geologist will also be stressed.


Detailed Description of the Conduct of Course

The course includes a combination of instructor lectures and class discussions supporting extensive assigned readings. Case studies are used to illustrate the variety of functions of engineering and environmental geologists in regulatory compliance and to demonstrate the types and proper style of related reports. In addition to a text(s), readings from federal code, related regulatory documents, example compliance documents, and other sources will be assigned and discussed. Students will prepare and present critiques of reports, outlines, and/or parts of reports based on case studies or their supporting information.


Goals and Objectives of Course

The goals of this course are to help the student develop:

1) a clear understanding of the major environmental regulations which dictate much of the activity of professional geologists practicing in the environmental field
2) an appreciation for the roles of different entities engaged in the business of environmental regulatory compliance
3) improved skills in assembling and transferring information (written and oral)
4) a clear understanding of the range of possible functions of professional geologists in support of regulatory development, compliance, and enforcement.


Assessment Measures

Progress toward attainment of the goals of the course will be evaluated based on 2 - 4 examinations, written homework assignments, and class presentations. Evaluation of assignments will emphasize demonstration of familiarity with topics, use of appropriate form, and clarity and professionalism of presentation.


Other Course Information



Approval and Subsequent Reviews

Date Action Reviewed by
September 2001 Reviewed and Approved Stephen W. Lenhart, Chair