- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
I studied the state rules and regulations and passed the test with my first attempt. At first, it was easy enough to keep up with the required duties as plant environmental officer but as the rules continued to pile on, the plant metallurgist was drafted to help me keep up. The parent company properly foresaw that environmental issues could break a company and they had set up a corporate environmental staff and reporting structure down to the plant level.
Eventually, I was promoted to a mid-level management position where it was my duty to oversee the environmental activities for 10 of the company's facilities. It was more than a full time job as I often put in 60 hours per week. Getting permits and licenses became more complex and the parent company assigned one of their corporate lawyers to be available to the environmental department as needed. Interestingly, they told the lawyer that his environmental duties should only take about ten percent of his time.
As time passed, the lawyer found his environmental duties grew and he was spending much more time reading regulations with me and discussing their potential impacts for the company.
Environmental issues continued to grow and even flourish – not only in the United States but around the globe. Other countries became eager to work with the U.S. EPA to learn more and set their own standards. The United Nations became more involved.
The pace of environmental regulation has wavered only slightly but continued to grow and become more complex. The Code of Federal Regulations Title 40 constantly morphed and environmental professionals strove to keep up with changes. Technology changed our abilities to measure lower concentrations and we learned to treat constituents that were unknown 30 to 50 years ago. The regulations became so difficult to understand that the EPA began issuing guidance documents to foster better understanding and create standards of enforcement within the agency.
The courts have also grown to be an integral part of the regulatory process. As the rules piled and regulations flowed from the pens at the agencies, the courts were forced to provide the ultimate interpretations for the citizenry. Today, special courts have formed that are tasked to handle the complex environmental issues. According to a report from the World Resources Institute titled, Greening Justice: Creating and Improving Environmental Courts and Tribunals, there are now 350 such courts in 41 countries.
There are no signs that this growth is going to come to an end. I expect that financial wizards will be the next big growth area.