Environmental permits are one way that a company can review whether its operations comply with applicable laws and regulations. Yet the licensing and permitting process can quickly become technical.
For example, the choice of whether a local, state or federal agency is the appropriate contact depends upon a company’s operations. Those with industrial operations will likely be subject to both federal and state laws regarding air and water quality, as well as the treatment of hazardous waste.
A good starting place for California companies is the Standard Industrial Classification Code. This code provides a general framework for the type of permits that may apply to a company’s operations.
It’s also important to remember that state laws may impose more stringent environmental compliance than their federal counterparts. For example, the Trump Administration has been reviewing the Clean Water Rule, a regulation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that defines the type of streams and wetlands that are subject to federal clean water laws. President Trump recently signed an executive order, calling on the EPA to repeal the rule and replace it with an alternative regulation.
Yet even amidst changing federal regulations, it is important to remember that state laws may set higher standards. In California, the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act is the state law that protects water rights and water quality. That law authorized the California Environmental Protection Agency to create the State Water Resources Control Board. Consequently, a company should consult with an experienced environmental law firm to ensure it has met its federal and state licensing and permitting needs.
Source: Vox, “Trump has begun dismantling Obama’s EPA rules. First up: the Clean Water Rule,” Brad Plumer, March 1, 2017