Happy New Year!
Here are some resolutions for 2019 that can help you avoid environmental surprises:
- Resolve to commission a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment when buying or leasing real property – Yes, even for leases. Yes, even for raw land. For a few thousand dollars, you can get peace of mind and ensure that there are no hidden environmental surprises, such as indoor air issues from an old dry cleaner that got regulatory closure before indoor air was an issue. In addition to supporting a defense if contamination is later discovered, it makes good business sense. Also be aware of my Top 10 Due Diligence Mistakes.
- Resolve to do more than a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment when buying a company – Make sure the acquired company has the necessary environmental permits and that the company is in compliance with those permits.
- Resolve to be aware of trending environmental issues – You don’t have to be an expert. Just be aware of trending environmental issues, such as PFAS and greenhouse gas reporting. Read only the headlines if you are busy and just want to know the lingo. Then, ask your favorite environmental attorney for more information.
- Resolve to use consultants for data gathering and interpretation and use lawyers for legal questions – Especially for the second resolution above, a consultant can gather data but should not make legal conclusions about whether a facility is in compliance or needs a permit. That opinion should come from an environmental attorney. Consultants and lawyers should work as a team.
- Resolve to look at internal practices – Like stepping on the scale, it is hard to realize that your company should improve its practices. But it is better to catch issues yourself than have a regulatory agency catch it in an inspection. Take advantage of programs such as the Texas Audit Privilege Act or EPA’s e-disclosure program to self-disclose and correct problems with potential immunity.
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Wishing you a prosperous New Year