Barbara Marvin, Katy O'Keefe Author Environmental Liabilities Chapter of The Complete Compliance and Ethics Manual

Earlier this year, Of Counsel Barbara Marvin (Washington, DC) and Associate Katy O'Keefe (Seattle) authored the Environmental Liabilities chapter for the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics publication, The Complete Compliance and Ethics Manual.

Introduction and Overview

Unique Aspects and Challenges of Environmental Liabilities and Risks

Over the past 40 years, the scope of environmental law has continued to expand to reach almost every company and regulated industry. In this unique field, liabilities abound, as do opportunities for dedicated compliance professionals who are willing to keep up with the evolving changes. Depending on the company and its operations, environmental compliance can encompass the well-known and traditional challenges of regulating industrial wastewater discharges, controlling toxic air emissions, or managing hazardous wastes—as well as the lesser-known liability risks arising from adversely affecting endangered species or development projects near wetlands, among others. By way of example, in 2022, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement and compliance efforts required violators to pay over $300 million in penalties fines and restitution. EPA enforcement concluded approximately 1,650 civil judicial and administrative cases. And that is only the federal level of environmental enforcement.

While environmental compliance is a complex field, this article is designed to serve as a primer and provide a general introduction. When facing environmental legal or regulatory issues, all compliance professionals should work closely with, and rely upon, the guidance, advice, and direction of experienced counsel. This article does not constitute legal advice but will assist non-lawyers with an overview of some of the common statutes, concepts, terms, and issues that are likely to arise in corporate environmental disputes. EPA’s website often provides general and detailed information for its regulatory programs that can be very helpful to interested parties.

Click here to read the full chapter (subscription may be required).

©2024. Published in The Complete Compliance and Ethics Manual, 2024, by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics