When starting a business, one of the questions you must not forget to ask is if your business will have an impact on the environment. Not only is this the right thing to do, but failing to comply with environmental regulations may also lead to expensive fines for your business.
Not all businesses are subjected to environmental regulations. However, you might be surprised at the businesses that are. For example, printing companies and dry cleaners must follow environmental regulations. To comply with regulations, there are several permits you will need to obtain.
Your business might engage in activities that can hurt endangered species. If this is the case, you'll want to obtain a permit from the Fish and Wildlife Services, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Under the Clean Air Act, if you are a source of air pollution, you might need to obtain a permit. This is common for businesses that engage in chemical or glass manufacturing and those who operate incineration units. The permits clarify what businesses need to do to enforce their permits. You will need to speak with an environmental law practice to determine what type of permits you need and the type of business you would be classified as.
The Clean Water Act affects businesses that release water pollution and businesses that live near wetlands. The discharge of dredged or fill materials is regulated by the Army Corps of Engineers. Always follow any local zoning ordinances regarding your business's proximity to wetlands. You may also need to apply for an NPDES permit if you discharge wastewater to surface water or a municipal sewer.
If you handle hazardous waste, you may be regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. You will need a plan for how your waste will be handled from the moment it is generated to the moment that you dispose of it. You'll need to consult with an attorney regarding how you must manage your hazardous waste.
If you are not sure about the regulations that your business is subjected to, it's best to speak with an environmental law practice. You'll save much more money if you create processes by which you minimize waste and properly dispose of waste than if you simply accept the legal penalties. You also won't have to track waste streams and engage in more expensive waste disposal methods.