Sustainability has become the buzzword for businesses throughout the United States. It is a great objective, but there are times when it is mandatory. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has put in place regulations that businesses must observe to ensure environmental sustainability.
While it may be obvious that businesses in the automotive, chemical production and agricultural services are subject to certain environmental regulations, innocuous ones such as printers and dry-cleaners have a set of regulations with which they must comply. The process of compliance may be tedious and time-consuming, but it is necessary for the environment.
Before engaging in regulated activities through your business, like discharging pollutants, it is important that you obtain a permit under these federal environmental laws:
The Clean Air Act (CAA)
Title V of the Clean Air Act requires businesses to obtain operating permits for smaller air pollution sources. These sources include businesses that are involved in chemical manufacturing, incineration systems, metal processing and glass manufacturing, among others. Most permits are issued at the state or local level and clarify what your business has to do to control emissions.
The Clean Water Act (CWA)
If your business is emitting water or operating near a wetland, you will be required to meet certain federal, state and local permit requirements. Here are some of these permit requirements:
- Section 404 – Wetlands – the Army Corps of Engineers monitors discharge of dredged or fill materials into any U.S. water system. State environmental regulations also monitor activities affecting water resources and forest management.
- Section 402 – National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) – you are required to obtain an NPDES license if your business is discharging wastewater to a municipal sewer system or surface water, or if there is stormwater runoff from your business during rain events.
No matter the nature of your business, you are impacting the environment in some way. Monitoring your business’ environmental impact and figuring out how to minimize it as much as possible protects both the environment and your business’ future. Failing to comply with federal and state environmental laws and regulations, on the other hand, can carry a hefty price tag.