Good stewardship of the environment is an increasingly important task for many businesses. If you run a company, even a small one, you may wonder how you can stay in front of potential legal entanglements. Here are four things to be aware of on the environmental front.
Set Company Standards
Even if you don't feel regulators breathing down your neck, it's a smart idea to codify the best practices for your business. Study what's being done in your industry. Likewise, don't be afraid to adapt or get rid of old practices if the best data has changed.
Develop a handbook or manual that will be a part of every employee's training. When current team members require training, make sure resources are available to bring them up to speed. Also, be prepared to provide severance to folks who aren't inclined to go along with the changes.
Establish a Clean-Up Fund
Marshaling money and labor to address environmental catastrophes is hard. Doing so from scratch within a couple of days of an incident is downright impossible. Put money as soon as possible into the hands of folks who are empowered to buy the right equipment and supplies. Identify potential chokepoints in the process, too.
Likewise, you should contact local, state, and federal agencies to learn what the notification requirements are when you do encounter trouble. Also, keep an updated log of who needs to be notified and how to contact them in an emergency.
If you never spend down the clean-up fund, hooray. When it all hits the fan, though, you'll thank the past version of yourself for being so well-prepared and thoughtful.
Keep Your Paperwork Current
Government agencies need to have an easy time getting in touch with you. Provide the relevant government entities with sufficient information to get a hold of you in a crisis. Update your information with their office at least once a year, too. If there are reports that have to be filed regularly, talk with someone from an environmental law practice to learn how to comply.
Become an Advocate
Foster a public image as a company that takes care of the environment. An active role in caring for the environment will create a self-enforcing mechanism. When people see your business step out of line with the best of possible practices, they'll call you out. It might seem painful at first, but the net effects will be greater transparency and stronger incentives to play it straight on the environmental law front.
For more information, contact an environmental law practice.