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Protecting your business from environmental litigation

By understanding federal laws regarding the environment and how your business is required to protect it, you can often avoid environmental litigation. Any litigation can be costly for a business, but environmental litigation might also cause bad press for a brand. At the same time, it isn't always feasible to avoid litigation by environmental groups, and understanding the law can help you fight back against unfounded claims.

Some important laws to know about include the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Act, which is also known as EPCRA. The Clean Air Act, which was passed into law in 1970 and updated in both 1977 and 1990, mandates how organizations must handle emissions and other processes that could pollute the air. The act is enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has the ability to seek fines and other sanctions against companies that fail to follow the law.

The Clean Water Act was made law in 1977 and amended in 1987. It dictates how companies can use lakes, rivers and other waterways and attempts to reduce the pollution that occurs in waterways. The act is also enforced by the EPA.

EPCRA requires states to create response plans for emergency situations, including chemical spills or other events that might pose an environmental hazard for communities and people. Companies must also comply with EPCRA requirements, particularly in communicating warnings about potential hazards.

There are many other environmental laws and requirements at federal, state and local levels. Businesses can protect themselves by seeking knowledge from legal professionals about how to proceed when it comes to environmental law issues.

Source: FindLaw, "Overview: Key Federal Environmental Laws," accessed Oct. 23, 2015

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