A recent article highlights the importance of understanding both federal and state environmental obligations.

The article discussed a number of reforms that were implemented as a result of federal, rather than state law. Laws like the Clean Air Act of 1970, passed by Congress and enforced by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, established consistent pollution standards across state lines.

Of course, states also have the power to pass environmental reforms. Yet if the new administration were to delegate more environmental controls to the states, some commentators fear a number of adverse consequences. The article observed that many states failed to take action before the passage of the EPA.

Without a unifying federal law, inconsistencies might develop in standards. That, in turn, could have a business impact: States with more lax environmental standards might entice polluting companies to relocate to their jurisdiction, and away from more environmentally stringent states.

Notably, the article mentioned California as being one of the few states with the resources and political temperament to set and enforce environmental standards. That characterization is confirmed by even a cursory review of the California Environmental Protection Agency’s 2013-2015 program update report. The report reflects the aggressive stance taken by the state’s environmental watchdog. From regulation of toxic substances to pilot programs encouraging green efforts, CalEPA is devoting substantial manpower and resources.

For businesses that have operations in California, today’s post underscores why it is important to understand local environmental enforcement efforts. Environmental compliance with federal law may not be enough to shield a company from liability or lawsuits, especially in areas where the CalEPA has set higher standards. Fortunately, the attorneys at Caufiled & James are knowledgeable in environmental regulatory issues at both the federal and state level. We describe our legal focus in greater detail on our web page.

Source: Real Clear Politics, “Should States Take Care of Pollution?” Richard Ayres, Feb. 1, 2017