Environment - General: What you need to know

Environmental Compliance in the United States

Environmental law encompasses the protection of public health and workplace health and safety, as well as the protection of natural resources. The focus of this publication is the description of laws that establish compliance obligations for businesses specifically intended to protect human health, the environment, and safety. Environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act that focus almost exclusively on the protection of natural resources are not covered.

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Many federal agencies are responsible for administering components of environmental laws, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the primary agency that administers programs and rules to protect the general population from significant risks to human health and safeguard the environment in the United States. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the primary agency responsible for protecting the workplace from environmental hazards, but shares some of that responsibility with EPA.

Compliance Rulemaking Process

Environmental law and its compliance mechanisms are more a system of environmental, health, and safety statutes, regulations, rules of evidence and procedure, judicial interpretations, civil and criminal codes, and common law than a set of specific rules that govern specific activities. There is, however, a process for developing a core set of rules that prescribe compliance requirements for specific categories of business activity:

  • Congress and state legislatures adopt statutes that establish goals and directives to protect human health and the environment and delegate responsibility for implementing statutory directives to government agencies.
  • Federal and state agencies ...

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State Requirements

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Featured Special Report
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One of the most tedious aspects of an EHS manager’s job is to keep track of a host of records. Laws have been passed in every jurisdiction requiring facilities to produce and retain records of various kinds. Don’t get caught without the necessary records in the event of a surprise EPA or OSHA inspection! This special report shows EHS managers at a glance the records they must keep on hand and for how long.

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This special report contains a recordkeeping checklist to help you keep track of your records for major environmental laws and OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard.

Also included are 3 useful tables which provide:
  • A summary listing of federal environmental recordkeeping requirements
  • A list of federal safety recordkeeping requirements.
  • A list of federal recordkeeping requirements for DOT and the Department of Homeland Security as they apply to hazardous material transporters and chemical facilities.
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