The United States has a long history of environmental lawsuits. From the early days of the EPA to today, regulations and litigation have changed dramatically. Businesses should be mindful of the environmental impact of their manufacturing processes and waste disposal systems. The policies of the government clearly reflect its commitment to stay invested in climate goals for long-term sustainable gains.
Recently, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 was enacted by the federal government. This dedicates the single largest investment ever to support clean energy manufacturing and help the United States achieve its net-zero economy status by 2050 by focusing on climate goals.
The Energy Infrastructure Reinvestment Financing Program is a new loan program under this act. This aims to enable existing energy infrastructure to focus on clean energy with subsidized loans, with a cap of $ 250 billion.
In this article, we’ll explore a few common areas where environmental lawsuits can be filed against businesses. It is important businesses avoid these common environmental lawsuits by understanding the laws that can affect them the most.
1. Clean Water Act Litigation
The Clean Water Act is a federal law that regulates discharges from point sources into navigable waters. Point sources are industrial facilities such as factories and sewage treatment plants, as well as any other facility that has a pipe or channel that leads directly to the water.
The law also covers stormwater runoff from construction sites and agricultural land. When we discuss water contamination, we should recall one of the most cases, including the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination case.
As a result of the Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, all those veterans, reservists, and National Guard members who, along with their families, were stationed at Camp Lejeune from August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987, will receive medical care for many presumptive diseases. They should have been at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days in the given period. The payout for Camp Lejeune lawsuit is an issue on the minds of all affected, and you should use reliable online resources to update yourself on the same.
The EPA oversees the implementation of this act and enforces it by working with state governments to create permit programs for discharges into waterways. Companies must meet these requirements if they want to discharge wastewater into rivers, lakes, streams, or oceans.
If you fail to obtain one of these permits when you need one, or if your business emits pollutants without getting one at all, you could face serious fines under this law. You can be levied penalties for violations like dumping toxic waste into public waterways without reporting it first. Businesses that don’t comply with these rules could also lose their right to operate in certain areas.
2. Property Transactions
Real estate transactions are a common source of environmental litigation. This is because many businesses have legacy contamination on their property, and if you don’t do your due diligence before purchasing a property or doing an expansion, you may be setting yourself up for expensive and time-consuming litigation down the road.
Before closing on any real estate transaction, do due diligence on the below points.
- Make sure the seller has disclosed all known environmental risks related to your site plan or expansion project, including cleanup activities that have already occurred on-site.
- Have an environmental lawyer review the title search and closing documents before they’re signed by both parties to ensure that no hidden liens or judgments are being passed along with the deed. You wouldn’t want to buy a house only to find out there was previously asbestos insulation underneath it.
- Get an environmental lawyer involved early enough in negotiations so that they can review any contracts related to buying or selling properties.
3. Clean Air Act
The Clean Air Act is a federal law that regulates air quality in the United States. The act was first passed in 1970 and has been amended many times since then to address new issues of pollution and to give more authority to state governments. The Clean Air Act is one of the most important laws in the United States and is one of the most frequently litigated environmental laws.
The North Pacific Seafoods company is supposed to pay a penalty of $ 345,000 for failing to operate compliant solid waste incinerators in Alaska. The emissions could expose local communities to many health issues like irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and cancer.
If you have incinerators releasing emissions into the surroundings, you need to comply with EPA standards and conduct periodic maintenance.
Incinerators aren’t the only thing that release toxic emissions. Check out the infographic below for more information on how you can bring down the toxic emission levels of your business to meet EPA requirements.
Infographic provided by Current Midwest, an industrial transformers supplier
4. Toxic Exposure Litigation
Toxic exposure litigation is a high-risk area of law. The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 empowers the United States Environmental Protection Authority to mandate the reporting, record-keeping, and testing of hazardous chemicals. EPA can also impose restrictions on the import, production, use, and disposal of these chemicals.
Food, drugs, cosmetics, and pesticides are usually excluded from this act. Chemicals like PCBs or polychlorinated biphenyls, radon, lead-based paint, and asbestos are within the ambit of this law.
If you want to be a compliant company and help the environment, then you should be aware of your company’s environmental impact. You should check how much waste your business produces, whether it is hazardous, and also how the disposal of this waste happens.
We hope this article has given you a better understanding of the risks associated with environmental non-compliance. There are many ways to protect your business against environmental lawsuits. If you’re concerned about potential liability, it’s worth it to do some research into what your options are and how they could affect your bottom line.