Regulatory compliance is a concern for many small businesses. Whether you are an existing business, or just getting started, it is very important for you to determine what regulations you are subject to, and what you need to do to stay in compliance.
But with today's complex and ever-changing environmental regulations, it's difficult to stay on top of it all, especially when you have so many priorities and often only limited resources to devote to any one of them.
EMAP offers free, one-on-one, confidential assistance to help small business owners understand and comply with the environmental rules and regulations specific to their business.
Important regulatory topics for small business include:
Most of these regulations have their roots in Federal legislation; then each state has the ability to either incorporate the Federal law directly, or modify it to make it more stringent. So it's best to be familiar with the legislation specified by the PA Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP).
Basically, if your business operations discharge anything to the land, air or water, you may be subject to DEP regulation and you may need a permit. This can include things that aren't immediately obvious. For example, equipment like ovens used in bakeries or restaurants; heating systems (once they reach a certain size), the handling, using or disposing of almost any kind of chemical; even backup generators may require a permit.
This list, though long, is not exhaustive - it represents a good variety of businesses that may need environmental permits and/or are subject to environmental regulations.
The DEP Handbook for Local Governments, Developers and Businesses was updated in 2012. This guide includes a directory of DEP programs and staff and other resources for small businesses.
The PA DEP's website offers a variety of tools to help small businesses, and offers an entire section dedicated to permits licensing and certification. You can also call your regional office, and ask to speak with someone in person. The Small Business Ombudsman is also available to PA business owners.
Do your homework and know what you're getting into. Many environmental laws hold current landowners responsible for any environmental contamination of a property - even if due to the activities of a previous owner.