Understanding 1) technical terms 2) commonly used terms and 3) 'words' that have extra legal meaning(s), that either restricts or enlarges, beyond the common dictionary definition is essential.
One example is Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area (ESHA) which is given tremendous weight by government agencies when protecting both wild plants and animals. The County of Los Angeles spent two million dollars to lobbying the California Coastal Commission to change the ESHA designation to Important Biological Resources (IBR). This change allowed the County to avoid strict rules under “Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas” within the meaning of California Public Resources Code Section 30107.5 or 30240.
This IBR designation was devised by lobbyists to make it sound like wildlife is important and would be protected, while not affording full protection of the law.Trick: Some people use these 'technical terms' to make one think something is true, when it really is not.
It's important, for advocates to learn what the 'technical terms' are, and avoid having the wool pulled over their eyes.
This page is not comprehensive, just our means of raising public awareness that 'wording' can have double meanings. The first meaning is the common lay person understanding, from the dictionary. The second meaning is the technical meaning as defined in a government 'document.'
This double meaning happens a lot in the course of business, community affairs, advocacy, diplomacy, guilds, unions, professional trade organizations, academics, teaching, and especially laws, rules, guidelines, regulations, of both government agencies and non government organizations (NGOs).
The purpose of this page is to draw attention to the need and means to find 'documents' that define "legal or technical terms" of the USA government, that affect one's understanding of what one reads and hears.
As our web site deals with all aspects of water, we use as a brief example the USA EPA Clean Water Act. Below find an URL to the official government definition of critical technical terms about 'water' in the United States. Note these definitions apply to only one section of the Clean Water Act. Many people use these terms outside of that context, and they could mean the same thing, or they might be pulling the wool over your eyes, as you think the words' definition come from the Clean Water Act, when the person speaking them does not mean that.
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act
Section 502 General Definitions
Except as otherwise specifically provided, when used in this chapter:
(12) The term "discharge of a pollutant" and the term "discharge of pollutants" each means (A) any addition of any pollutant to navigable waters from any point source, (B) any addition of any pollutant to the waters of the contiguous zone or the ocean from any point source
(13) The term "toxic pollutant" means those pollutants, or combinations of pollutants, including disease-causing agents, which after discharge and upon exposure, ingestion, inhalation or assimilation into any organism, either directly from the environment or indirectly by ingestion through food chains, will, on the basis of information available to the Administrator, cause death, disease, behavioral abnormalities, cancer, genetic mutations, physiological malfunctions (including malfunctions in reproduction) or physical deformations, in such organisms or their offspring.
(14) The term "point source" means any discernible, confined and discrete conveyance, including but not limited to any pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure, container, rolling stock, concentrated animal feeding operation, or vessel or other floating craft, from which pollutants are or may be discharged.
(16) The term "discharge" when used without qualification includes a discharge of a pollutant, and a discharge of pollutants.
(19) The term "pollution" means the man-made or man-induced alteration of the chemical, physical, biological, and radiological integrity of water.