Industry and Government have been hazardous polluters for decades. Negative Externality (the theory that those who make a decision do not have to pay the negative cost and effect of that decision) is a theory that could well apply to the consequence of previous hazardous pollution in the past.
An example of this is the answer I received after a presentation I gave on a non-thermal, EPA approved process that destroys asbestos. At the end of the presentation I asked the environmental manager if the company was worried about the cradle-to-grave consequences of landfilling asbestos or, for that fact, any hazardous waste.
The answer: Our Chief Executive is not worried about that, he’ll be long retired before there are any consequences of our landfilling of hazardous material.
In other words, he is going to CYA it until it is time to collect his pension
Yes that may be true, but what about his grandchildren?!
This brings us to the EPA and money.
EPA budgets have become limited by financial constraints, as well as the fact that EPA enforcement has become prevalent since the EPA has been sued by environmental groups to enforce Section 108(b), which requires financial responsibility and a secured guarantee for environmental pollution clean-up that a company may cause long into the future.
The enforcement of 108(b) will eventually lessen the Congressional appropriations for the clean-up of polluted sites in the future, therefore easing tax payer liability and creating an efficient EPA that can be the oversight manager of our environment instead of the responsible clean-up contractor.
How does industry constructively deal with 108(b)?
The financial requirement of 108(b) goes directly to a company’s bottom line as a negative liability and future cash requirement.
Industry, through its CEOs and CFOs should instruct their research and development and environmental departments to actively seek out solutions to our hazardous waste problems.
Let’s take a look at the advantages to industry of finding and utilizing solutions that permanently rid our environment of hazardous waste:
- Elimination of a liability;
- Elimination of further pollution;
- Elimination of health risks to humans
- Good social responsibility;
- It is the green thing to do;
- It does not cost them anything, because it is tax deductible, either as a deductible expense or as a deductible capital expense
In this scenario, the company will be financially stronger, good for the stock holders and the CEO and CFO, good for the environment, socially responsible and most importantly, good for our grandchildren.