Environmental laws and regulations govern many activities in the construction and aggregates industries. Due to the nature and complexity of environmental regulation, this brief summary simply cannot comprehensively explain everything that may affect you and your business. However, it will touch on three of the main areas (water, air, and waste) and provide some basic information so you can generally assess whether you may have an issue that needs to be addressed. As Ben Franklin once said – “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Why is this important? Inspections and potential enforcement actions by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) are bad enough. But, other time-consuming actions could hamper your company as a result of unknowingly violating environmental laws. Third-parties, such as neighbors or environmental groups, have the right to file a ‘citizen’s suit’ against your company for environmental violations. General laws of nuisance, trespass, and tort may form the basis for a suit. When wetlands may be involved, the Corps of Engineers may issue stop-work orders, shutting down your job. Continue reading “Why Should You Worry About Environmental Laws?”
Clean Water Restoration Act, S.787
This bill (S. 787) seeks to substantially expand the jurisdictional reach of the Clean Water Act, and that of the regulatory agencies administering the Act, by amending two key definitions. S. 787 will remove the definition of ‘navigable waters’ that has been included in the Act since its enactment and will replace it with a new, broadly defined statutory term, ‘waters of the United States.’ That term has been defined in EPA and Corps regulations for many years. However, the bill will provide a statutory definition of the ‘waters of the United States’ that expands the prior regulatory definition to include, among other things, “all interstate and intrastate waters and their tributaries” and “wetlands” “to the fullest extent that these waters, or activities affecting these waters, are subject to the legislative power of Congress under the Constitution.” Note that the definition not only includes the actual waters, but ‘activities affecting these waters.’ Continue reading “Clean Water Restoration Act, S. 787 and SPCC Rule Finalized, Again”
Construction Sites – EPA Proposes Tightened Storm Water Standards
The EPA has been proposing tighter regulation of storm water discharges from construction sites. In the rule proposed on November 28, 2008, EPA establishes minimum requirements that will apply nationally. 73 Fed. Reg. 72562 – 72614 (Nov. 28, 2008).
All construction sites will be required to implement a range of erosion and sediment control best management practices (BMPs) to reduce pollutants in storm water discharges. Erosion controls are considered effective when bare soil is uniformly and evenly covered with vegetation or other suitable materials, storm water is controlled so that rills and gullies are not visible, sediment is not visible in runoff from these areas, and channels and streambanks are not eroding. Effective sediment controls include a variety of practices that are designed to remove sediment within the range of particle sizes expected to be present on the site. The proposed rule provides minimum standards that must be achieved through use of BMPs. Continue reading “Construction Sites – EPA Proposes Tightened Storm Water Standards”