Reading Room

McGregor Legere & Stevens Reading Room, for legal articles and downloadable powerpoint slideshows on topics pertaining to environmental issues.

Amid all the laws and regulations on environmental protection and worker safety, what is the responsible industry to do?
One of our clients, Typical Industry, just says, "Let's deal with trouble as it comes." This client stumbles from crisis to crisis, always learning after the fact that some permit was supposed to have been obtained, some report prepared, some document filed, some notice published, some approval sought or some question answered.

Typical Industry lurches from problem to problem and wonders why it wastes money, "burns out" good people and angers agency staff. It agonizes over poor media coverage. The neighbors mobilize. We lawyers make a lot of money.
Another client, the Good Faith Company, says it wants to "meet the minimum requirements." This client finds out what the law requires and stays close to the line. At least it has copies of the law and regulations, even if outdated. At least it has a consulting engineer, even if she is not familiar with proposed changes in the regulations.
If Good Faith Company is accused of violating pollution laws, it has the comfort of being able to say it "tried." Unfortunately, the law keeps changing and this client does not anticipate the changes. Consequently, it buys land or buildings, hires consultants, spends money designing
projects and manufacturing processes, and then has to redesign and duplicate costs because it has no overall approach to environmental protection.
Our best client is Successful Enterprise, Inc. It has changed its corporate policies and procedures to "manage for environmental protection." Environmental protection and worker safety have been elevated to a corporate purpose by a resolve of the board of directors and a memo from the president.
This high-level policy makes pollution abatement and resource conservation the goals of project concept and design. Executives who reduce environmental liabilities are rewarded. Modern risk management tools such as environmental audits and hazardous waste site assessments are used routinely.
Production incorporates state-of-the-art controls the client developed. This forces the competition to adopt the same controls in a rush, under pressure of new regulations modeled on this client's approach.
Successful Enterprise, Inc. manages for environmental protection as a corporate goal, and consequently stays abreast of new government requirements, away from lawyers and lawsuits, and ahead of the competition.
Companies will leave this "Environmental Decade" as losers, followers or leaders. Take your choice. It makes good economic and environmental common sense to:

Understand your new duties, liabilities and exposure under environmental law (especially if you generate, transport, store, treat or dispose of hazardous waste or hazardous materials).
Perform environmental audits, checking compliance with laws regulating air and water pollution, hazardous waste, underground tanks, worker safety, wetlands, protection and land use (not forgetting local rules such as zoning and subdivision control).
Appoint an environmental manager whose job it is to assure a business like approach to environmental and worker safety programs (but do not heap this job on an already busy person).
Build an environmental library with current copies of laws, regulations, guidelines and official and unofficial policies (realizing that they determine the fate of your operations).
Determine the environmental feasibility of building expansion or new operations (before committing capital or signing on the dotted line for land purchases).
Use experts who have a track record with the agencies, who know agency staff by first names, and who can quote the applicable rules from memory (use these experts to shape your projects and operations, not just to fill out applications).
Comply with environmental laws, and then some.
Anticipate and address public policy considerations in project proposals, permit applications, and enforcement defense.

Thus, the successful business, to survive the 1990s, uses a sophisticated approach to environmental compliance in response to the rise of pro-environ- ment public opinion and the resulting regulatory agencies administering important, complex laws that determine whether and on what terms industry will operate.

Across the spectrum of environmental law we offer advice and representation
with practical, results-oriented lawyering.


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