By Paul Harding
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is committed to working with small businesses to safeguard the quality of our air, land, and water. But we are also committed to helping these businesses understand the environmental regulations that affect their operations, listening to their concerns, and exploring strategies and technologies that can protect both our environment AND their bottom line. The Utah Small Business Compliance Advisory Panel (CAP) is one way we ensure that small business sectors have easy access to our staff and the information they need to comply with environmental regulations. The CAP also serves as a sounding board for small businesses, providing them with an opportunity to offer input on existing and proposed regulations.
Compliance Advisory Panels (CAPs): The Clean Air Act
On November 15, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAA) into law. These amendments to the 1970 Act extended federal clean-air controls to small businesses after studies indicated that new federal controls on smaller air-pollution sources were needed to adequately address air-quality problems.
Section 507 of the CAA Amendments included provisions requiring all state governments to create Small Business Technical Compliance Assistance Programs to assist small businesses in complying with these new air-pollution control responsibilities. One provision required states to establish Small Business Compliance Advisory Panels (CAPs) consisting of representatives of small businesses and members of the general public.
Utah’s Small Business Compliance Advisory Panel (CAP)
DEQ’s Small Business CAP provides input to the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) regarding the needs of small businesses. This information, in turn, helps DAQ help small businesses comply with state and federal air-pollution laws.
Utah’s CAP, comprised of seven formal members, meets quarterly. Two members are selected by the governor, four by the legislature, and one by the Executive Director of DEQ. This selection process ensures a broad range of participants. To qualify as a small business under state law, the company must have 100 employees or less and fall below the emissions threshold of a Major Source as defined by state regulations.
Better Communication, Better Regulations
It has been my good fortune to coordinate the Small Business CAP for our state. The volunteer panel helps DAQ make the regulatory process more effective by bringing in the voices of small businesses from sectors that might otherwise not be represented. My position gives me the opportunity to observe the many advantages of collaboration between the private sector, the small business community, and the public sector (DAQ).
I see Small Business CAP representatives benefiting professionally from their participation as they become more knowledgeable about environmental regulations. Members become familiar with DAQ, so they know who to contact with questions and feel more comfortable asking for help when they need it. In turn, they share the knowledge they gain from their interactions with DAQ staff with their professional associations and organizations. DAQ scientists and regulators benefit from their participation in the Small Business CAP. DAQ personnel attending CAP meetings not only gain a better appreciation for the challenges faced by small-business owners, they also forge good working relationships with its members, and by extension, with other small-business owners.
The CAP also facilitates two-way communication between DAQ and the regulated community. For example, when DAQ needs to disseminate information about proposed or existing rules to unique business sectors, the business members of the CAP can communicate this message to their associates, either directly or through organizational channels. In addition, CAP members can help craft the message so it is understandable to the intended audience.
It has been a pleasure to see the mutual respect that has naturally evolved from an association of professionals who are intent on helping one another. The Small Business CAP demonstrates that by working together, we can find a balance between environmental protection and economic development, one that benefits both our air and our quality of life.
If you are a small business owner or member of the public interested in becoming a member of Utah’s Small Business CAP, please contact me at (801) 536-4108. The terms for the two positions for the general public have expired, and several positions for small business representatives will expire soon. We’re looking for new members, and hope you will consider applying to serve on the panel.
If you represent a small business and would like to participate informally, have an issue you feel would be appropriate for the Small Business CAP to address, or have any other questions or comments, feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.
I am a Utah native, and I graduated from BYU with a degree in geology. I have had the privilege of serving the people of Utah for the last 24 years as an environmental scientist for the Utah Department of Environmental (DEQ). I spent my first 17 years as an inspector in the Underground Storage Tank Program. Just over seven years ago, I accepted a position in Business Assistance, working in the Office of the Executive Director. I work with businesses in a number of capacities for DEQ, including as the Ombudsman. I’m part of the DEQ Ultimate gang who play Ultimate Frisbee for exercise at lunch. I live in Salt Lake with my husband, Brett, and our two dogs, Frankie and Bernie.