Environmental Regulatory Forecasting as a Means for Protecting Businesses and the Environment

Alexa West + Laura Askin

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Jun 8, 2022

Celebrated on June 5, the United Nations’ World Environment Day encourages worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment. Since 1989, Jensen Hughes has been working with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to resolve global environmental issues. Our authors look at how Jensen Hughes employs environmental regulatory forecasting to help promote sustainable solutions and protect the health of the environment.

As we continue to expand our understanding of the impacts we have on our world, the ramifications of changing environmental regulations have never been more significant. Advances in the science of toxicology and hazardous materials, supply chain challenges, and the current critical juncture in the fight against climate change have accelerated the adoption of new regulations. Thus, environmental regulatory forecasting is both an opportunity and a responsibility. The environmental regulatory forecasting work being done at Jensen Hughes prioritizes both the environment and the client by being at the forefront of emerging environmental regulations.

What is Regulatory Forecasting?

International, federal, state, and local environmental, safety and health regulations play a significant role across the fire and life safety industry. By addressing regulatory changes ahead of time, clients can begin the long process of identifying and validating alternative materials before restrictions are imposed.

Regulatory forecasting involves the tracking, anticipation and mitigation of potential regulations that could affect the client and company. It enables us to anticipate potential complications and helps clients decide what is best for their business. Environmental regulatory forecasting specifically helps to lessen pollution, prevent illness and injury, avoid permitting and compliance support costs, and reduce resources and costs for environmental clean-up and restoration - as well as production, operations, maintenance and disposal.

Drivers of Regulatory Change

Regulations are constantly changing based on emerging toxicity data, public pressure and industry drivers. Identifying the main drivers and leveraging information on probable regulatory changes can help ensure a proactive approach to obtaining safer alternatives to harmful materials. Regulatory drivers include regulatory and standardization organizations, toxicity data, existing laws, proposed legislation, and other indicators that drive the need for safe, cost-effective alternatives that meet performance standards. The following are examples of regulatory drivers.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), through the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA), often requests environmental, safety and occupational health data from many types of industries and requires reporting, recordkeeping, testing, and restrictions for chemicals and mixtures.
  • The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation are aggressive and ahead of the U.S. on regulating and researching chemicals. This regulation potentially impacts material availability and compliance with local regulations while operating in locations outside the U.S. They may also pressure the adoption of similar regulations within the U.S.
  • Toxicology organizations, including the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), often adopt more conservative exposure limits compared to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
  • Some states in the U.S., such as California, influence regulatory development with more stringent regulations across a variety of industries. It is often cost-prohibitive to support multiple product lines to meet the strictest of regulatory authority (e.g., nationwide fuel efficiency requirements are influenced by requirements in California).

By closely monitoring regulatory drivers, we aim to mitigate complications to best serve the client and the environment. A prime example of how regulatory drivers affect forecasting is ECHA’s proposed ban of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in all firefighting foams. Such a ban has the potential to impact Jensen Hughes European offices, clients and the supply chain worldwide. Jensen Hughes has been proactive in supporting development, evaluation and implementation of PFAS-free foams well in advance of target regulatory compliance to ensure that our clients are not adversely impacted by changing regulations.

Data Tracking and Monitoring

In addition to being familiar with your industry’s regulatory history and use of chemicals and processes, it is also crucial to continuously monitor regulatory changes that may affect these operations. Even materials that have been used for centuries can be subject to changing regulations as we learn more about their potential effects. For example, hexavalent chromium is used in many industrial processes and has seen dramatic regulatory changes over the last four decades. These changes have impacts ranging across all industries, including defense, aerospace and transportation.

Another particularly relevant aspect of environmental regulatory forecasting includes tracking of data and literature on hazardous, toxic, and carcinogenic materials. Active monitoring of emerging data on these materials enables us to proactively offer sustainable industry alternatives that best serve our clients and the environment.

By implementing best practices in environmental regulatory forecasting, clients can keep a step ahead of regulations, thereby saving time, money and worker injury while preventing further deterioration of the environment. Learn more about how our team of engineers, scientists and advisers can help you mitigate risks related to environmental hazards and successfully navigate the regulatory landscape.