Environmental compliance is a major responsibility for many organizations since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created in 1970. The EPA is an important agency for almost everyone who generates, transports, treats, stores, or disposes of hazardous waste, emits contaminants into the air, or discharges pollutants into the water. Many businesses claim that environmental rules are complex and difficult to understand. in the form of fines and, in extreme cases, jail time.
What makes environmental compliance even more difficult is that many states have adopted compliance rules that are stricter or more comprehensive than federal rules. Most states impose stricter requirements for chemical reporting, facility siting, asbestos abatement, air and water discharge limits, and more. A careful review of state compliance requirements, as well as federal requirements, is clearly warranted.
Why is environmental compliance important?
Just about everyone recognizes the value of protecting our natural resources and the general public from harm. Businesses must also recognize that every environmental law provides some form of civil, and in many cases, criminal, penalties. With penalties reaching upwards of tens of thousands of dollars per day per violation, civil penalties can reach millions of dollars. And every 4 years, the EPA adjusts civil penalties for inflation. While civil penalties are a concern for facility owners and operators, criminal penalties are even more severe.