Should Phase I Environmental Site Assessments be Priced as a Commodity?

Synergy Environmental, Inc.
Brian K. Loughnane, PG

April 20, 2016

The short answer is no. Yet it’s very common within the environmental due diligence market for certain purchasers or lenders to treat a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) as a one unit price commodity good.  To examine the differences between a commodity good and a Phase I Environmental Site Assessments let’s review the definition of both a commodity and Phase I ESA.

Wikipedia defines the term commodity” as an economic good or service when the demand for it has no qualitative differentiation across a market.  More specifically the market treats its instances as equivalent, or nearly so, with no regard to who produced them.  Examples are a bushel of wheat or a dimensioned piece of lumber.  Basically a purchaser of one of these items is not influenced by where it originated or who originated the item.  As an example in most marketplaces no one asks “where did the wheat in the bread one eats originate?”

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Can A Smartphone Be Used To Verify Compliance With My Air Permit—Surprisingly, the Answer Soon May Be Yes—and Other New Enforcement Initiatives

Jenner & Block LLP
Steven M. Siros

April 7, 2016

In an effort to capitalize on what U.S. EPA characterizes as the successful integration of its Next Generation Compliance strategy into its enforcement arsenal, U.S. EPA recently confirmed that it intends to incorporate Next Generation Compliance into future environmental settlements. For those unfamiliar with the strategy, U.S. EPA’s Next Generation Compliance strategy is intended to achieve a higher rate of compliance and reduce pollution through the use of advanced monitoring and information technologies. For example, through the use of Electronic Discharge Monitoring Reports to monitor compliance with Clean Water Act NPDES permits, U.S. EPA is able to more readily identify and prosecute permit violations. Moreover, since much of this information is then publicly available, environmental organizations and citizen groups are more readily able to identify violators, which could result in an increased frequency of citizen suits and/or increased pressure being brought to bear on the regulators to enforce against repeated violators.

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Industrial and Chemical Facilities Beware and Prepare: U.S. EPA Announces New Enforcement Initiatives

Greensfelder Hemker & Gale PC
Shannon L. Haney

March 31, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced updated and additional National Enforcement Initiatives that will be a focus for EPA enforcement in the next few years. Below is a quick summary of the initiatives and action items companies can take now to avoid receiving violations from EPA or state environmental agencies.

New enforcement initiatives

  1. Risk management planning: One of EPA’s new initiatives is focused on reducing the risk of accidental releases at industrial and chemical facilities. This initiative is likely in response to the increasing number of large explosions in the last few years, including the one at the West Fertilizer facility near Waco, Texas.

The initiative will include increased EPA focus on proper maintenance, updating and review of Risk Management Plans (RMP) for facilities. EPA’s RMP Rule requires certain facilities that store a threshold quantity of certain hazardous substances to have an up-to-date plan in place and submitted to EPA.

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Earth Day: U.S. Business Perceptions of Water Scarcity

Jenner & Block LLP
E. Lynn Grayson

April 19, 2016

In the U.S., water scarcity often seems a non-issue when you turn on a faucet and receive plentiful, clean, and sometimes even free water. Water is fundamental to business to heat, cool, clean, and manufacture goods. More so than oil, increasingly water is a limited natural resource with supplies adversely impacted by quality, pollution, insufficiency of infrastructure, drought, and flooding. PwC’s 17th Annual Global CEO Survey reveals interesting insights into the views and perceptions of business leaders regarding water.

  1. Water crisis was identified as the #1 global business risk in terms of impact in 2015.
  2. 46% of CEOs surveyed believed that resource scarcity and climate change will transform their business in the next five years.
  3. According to the World Resource Group, the world will face a 40% global shortfall between forecast demand and available water supply by 2030; moreover, in 2030, 47% of the world population will be living in areas of high water stress and a significant percentage of businesses will be operating there too.
  4. A 2014 survey of the FTSE 500 companies noted that 68% believed water was a substantive risk to business up from 59% in 2011.
  5. The Global Water Intelligence suggests that $84B has been spent by business around the world to conserve, manage, or obtain water.

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