It is not uncommon for business owners to need environmental permits to move forward with operations. Sometimes they need one, sometimes multiple. Sometimes the permit is only needed for a short-term activity, other times for continued operation. Whatever the reason for the permit business owners often have questions. Three of the more important are discussed below.
#1: Why do I need an environmental permit?
Environmental permits at the local, state, and federal levels are one step towards compliance with applicable regulations. Lawmakers have put these regulations in place with the intention of protecting human and environmental health.
By taking the steps to help ensure compliance, business owners who get the needed permits can also enjoy the added benefit of mitigating the risk of environmental related lawsuits.
#2: When do I need one?
Permits are required for an array of activities, including:
- Water use. Any activity that diverts water from its source may require a water rights permit.
- Wastewater discharge. Businesses need a wastewater discharge permit if business operations include discharge of pollutants into a water source. The list of qualifying pollutants is broad and extends beyond industrial and agricultural waste. It also includes rocks, sand, and dirt.
- Underground storage. California requires a Unified Program Facility Permit for use of underground tanks for water or other storage uses.
- Air pollution. Requirements vary depending on several factors such as the emission source.
These are just a few examples.
#3: What happens if I do not get one?
This can happen for any number of reasons. Perhaps you were not aware that you needed a permit for the activity, or you thought that everything was in order, but the permit was not complete. Whatever the reason, a failure to get a required permit can come with serious penalties. It can come with allegations of trespass as well as financial penalties and leave your business open to the threat of additional lawsuits. As such, it is wise to take the steps needed to get all required permits in order before moving forward with or expanding business operations.