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Jul 13 2016

Industry Spending $ Millions Over-Complying with Environmental Procedural Laws

Now there’s a tool for that . . .

(Houston) – July 13, 2016

Industry is spending millions of dollars unnecessarily over-complying with complicated environmental procedural laws, according to recent analyses performed by the AL Law Group, a Texas-based environmental law firm. In addition, unnecessary over-compliance can increase costs, create additional liabilities, and distract company resources from being used toward more effective environmental improvement efforts.

Complexity and Jed2“Over-compliance doesn’t necessarily mean better compliance . . . or better environmental protection,” said Jed Anderson, a lead attorney with the firm.  “Sometimes it means that limited resources are being spent on non-required administrative-oriented exercises, rather than results-oriented environmental improvements.”

Nationally renowned as a Clean Air Act expert, Anderson acknowledges that rarely is over-compliance systematically evaluated, “Companies performing environmental audits typically focus on non-compliance – and rightly so. Companies must ensure compliance,” Anderson said. “However, non-productive over-compliance drains valuable company resources, increases liability, and leads to less effective environmental protection efforts.”

Why is “over-compliance” occurring?

One of the primary causes of over-compliance is the growing size and complexity of U.S. environmental law.  U.S. environmental laws are the most complicated laws in human history–and they are getting even more complicated.  Gina McCarthy, the current head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, once said, “I hate that each sector has 17 to 20 rules that govern each piece of equipment and you’ve got to be a neuroscientist to figure it out.”  This growing size and complexity is leading to significant legal ambiguity and legal misunderstanding–and therefore many over-compliance situations.

asler-chemical-plantAnother factor contributing to over-compliance, according to the AL Law Group, is that many companies infrequently legally scrutinize their permits and environmental management systems–which can be subject to changing legal interpretation based on case law, rule changes, guidance changes, and other legal decisions.

Complexity Creating Economic Opportunity

“Those who best understand ever-changing and complicated environmental laws can best position themselves for economic opportunity,” said Anderson.   “We do not see complexity as an impediment at the AL Law Group, we see it as an opportunity.”

Anderson compared it to paying taxes.  The tax code is not as complicated as the environmental code, but the complicated tax code has provided significant economic opportunity for certain individuals who have best understood and have been able to navigate its complexity.  As Anderson pointed out, “It’s not a crime to understand the tax code better than your neighbor.  Similarly, it’s not a crime to understand environmental laws better than your neighbor.”

He added, “Hopefully someday environmental laws will become simple. This will be a beautiful day for both the environment and business.  Until that day however, unleashing the power of simplicity has been a refreshing approach to new projects and environmental compliance efforts in our clients’ daily environmental lives.   It’s a new way of thinking and problem solving in this arena, and people are starting to gravitate to this new approach.”

The AL Law Group’s OCELA Service

The AL Law Group’s Over-Compliance Environmental Legal Assessment or “OCELA” service is a unique legal product designed to show companies where over-compliance is commonly occurring and share with clients tools the AL Law Group has successfully utilized to help their clients save money, reduce liability, and reinvest in more productive environmental improvement efforts.

The AL Law Group developed this innovative tool to help companies improve environmental performance, while reducing unnecessary costs and decreasing potential liabilities created through ineffective over-compliance.  AL Law’s service has helped several companies save thousands of dollars and achieve more effective environmental protection efforts. Anderson says his firm’s focus of looking for over-compliance while ensuring compliance is a “game changer” in the environmental legal service industry.

AL Law’s OCELA service evaluates commonly occurring over-compliance situations the law firm has detected through years of legal practice with Fortune 100 and smaller companies alike. Some examples of commonly found over-compliance situations include unnecessary permit conditions; non-use of alternative compliance strategies; misinterpretation of rules, permit conditions and/or guidance documents; and unnecessary over-monitoring of certain parameters that are not contributing significantly to environmental protection efforts.  AL Law has also teamed with PDC Corp. to create a Biz Pro e-Form to help electronically identify and manage over-compliance situations.  This software program allows AL Law to:

-Upload their client’s regulatory requirements and compliance tasks for analysis;

-Use custom eForm features and functions to identify cost-savings opportunities and their projected cost reduction; and

-Develop deployment plans for cost-saving measures approved by clients.

AL Law points to results that justify the creation of the Over-Compliance Environmental Legal Assessment service. AL Law Group is the only company to offer this unique legal product, which is a blend between services, expertise, experience and a work product developed over years of legal service to various clients.

“We want to show companies where over-compliance is commonly occurring and share with them the tools we have successfully utilized to help other clients save money, reduce liability, and reinvest in more productive environmental improvement efforts.”

Anderson concluded, “We are excited by the response to OCELA.  Not only is it rewarding to help companies increase profitability and decrease liability in the complex morass of environmental law, its rewarding to help them improve their environmental performance at the same time.  It’s just a win-win-win all around.”

Call The AL Law Group, PLLC.

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