Environmental Justice

Enforcement of Environmental, Health, Safety & Terrorist Prevention Laws in the United States

According to the U.S. EPA, “Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across this Nation. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn and work.”

Statistics gathered since year 2000 indicates that… (1) 76% of all enforcement penalties are “paperwork violations on chemically-driven laws;” (2) Every nine (9) seconds, a company in the U.S. gets an enforcement penalty from EPA, OSHA, DOT, or one of over 50 states of record or U.S. territories, plus a myriad of county and local regulatory enforcement bodies; (3) Due to a phenomenon called “mission creep,” the evolution of agencies like the U.S. EPA and OSHA causes inspections to increase by as much as 45% per year.

With regard to environmental justice for regulatory compliance laws levied against U.S. Industry, perhaps, one of the best ways to understand the risks associated with enforcement penalties is go directly to government websites. Therefore, here are links to OSHA, EPA, DOT and Homeland Security for the purpose of monitoring enforcement penalties first-hand.

ENFORCEMENT

THE OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY & HEALTH ADMINISTRATION (OSHA)

  1. Enforcement in General: https://www.osha.gov/enforcement
  2. Hazard Communication (The Right to Understand): https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/
  3. Recommended Practices for Safety & Health Programs: https://www.osha.gov/shpguidelines/
  4. Whistleblower Protections: https://www.whistleblowers.gov/
    Note: OSHA reports that “You have the right to report if your workplace is unsafe during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

THE U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA)

  1. COVID-19 Enforcement and Compliance Resources: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/covid-19-enforcement-and-compliance-resources
  2. Air Topics: https://www.epa.gov/environmental-topics/air-topics
  3. Chemicals and Toxics Topics: https://www.epa.gov/environmental-topics/chemicals-and-toxics-topics
  4. Environmental Information by Location: https://www.epa.gov/environmental-topics/environmental-information-location
  5. EPA Enforcement Basics: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/basic-information-enforcement
  6. EPA Air Enforcement: http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/air-enforcement
  7. EPA Waste, Chemical, & Cleanup Enforcement: http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/waste-chemical-and-cleanup-enforcement
  8. EPA Criminal Enforcement: http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/criminal-enforcement
  9. EPA Enforcement at Federal Facilities: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/enforcement-federal-facilities

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (DOT) AND THE FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION (FMCSA)

  1. DOT Enforcement: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/enforcement/civil-penalties
  2. Enforcement Cases, 2014-2020: https://www.epa.gov/environmental-topics/air-topics
  3. Chemicals and Toxics Topics: https://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/SafetyProgram/EnforcementCase.aspx
  4. Adjudication Decisions by Company Names: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/enforcement/adjudication-decisions
  5. Uniform Fine Assessment: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/enforcement/uniform-fine-assessment

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (DHS)

IMMIGRATIONS & CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT (ICE):
https://www.dhs.gov/topic/immigration-and-customs-enforcement

RISK MANAGEMENT AGAINST ENFORCEMENT PENALTIES

Vanguard’s Four Primary Benefits

The four primary benefits enjoyed by Vanguard’s clients are the equivalent of a grand-slam homerun.

  1. First and foremost is…Risk Management Against Enforcement Penalties. When considering enforcement risks, it’s important to understand the practical nature of four downside risks that come with virtually every violation:
    1. When a penalty policy is set from $55,000 to $101,000 per day (i.e., EPA’s current penalty policy according to the Consumer Price Index – (CPI / 2020), the civil fine itself is no small concern;
    2. But with that comes attorneys’ fees, generally resulting in another 30% to 50% beyond the fine levied against the corporate violator;
    3. Then, a lawsuit or litigation lasts one to three years, resulting in an immeasurable cost of lost productivity;
    4. Finally, the corporate violator ends up on inspectors’ “Hit Lists,” shared by personnel from one agency to another. In other words, inspectors do network!
  2. The second primary benefit is Legislative Updating since regulatory laws evolve by about 30% per year via amendments and newly enacted laws. Vanguard regularly upgrades its systems to screen its clients’ compliance matters on a continuous basis.
  3. Third is Defensible Documentation, a tangible outgrowth of the precision due diligence executed on a client’s site-specific regulatory compliance matters. Why? The client’s Defensible Documentation serves as an Inspection Showpiece when an inspector comes to conduct an inspection. An inspector will require a showing of evidence-based compliance, not some assertion of “floors so clean, you could eat off of the.” And, the benefit of Defensible Documentation comes with every compliance project generated in behalf of the client. It’s rare that enforcement inspectors don’t applaud the client’s commitment to compliance when they see Vanguard’s evidence-based compliance work, which sends them out the front door with a smile on their face and the matter resolved.
  4. 4. Finally, the client’s Economic Benefits are substantial in overall savings of time and money. Because we execute precision due diligence at the outset of every client relationship, a company’s investment in its compliance is made only toward its compliance gaps, never on extraneous issues where compliance is not mandated. Therefore, many compliance problems are eliminated, and the client’s site-specific compliance program is illuminated. This positions Vanguard to perform its role in terms of just a few turnkey compliance projects, simplifying our cost structures to that of flat-rate fees, as opposed to the excessive approach to costing methodologies known as “billable hours.”

The end-result of these four primary benefits is this: The client can now enjoy the high payoff of sustainability and environmental stewardship without destroying profitability at the cost of compliance!