What is Green Business?
“Green Business” is a term that encompasses sustainable practices utilized by organizations and businesses that benefit local communities, the environment, and hopefully the bottom line. Many companies consider sustainable practices to be vital in a variety of ways: (1) reducing risks of paying higher premiums in the future for natural resources that have been contaminated by past practices; (2) consumer awareness of “green” products and willingness to support local and environmentally friendly companies; (3) positive public perception through media campaigns; (4) growing interest of young professionals to work for companies who promote sustainability; (5) tax credits; and (6) ability to save money while still reaping these benefits.
So what are the legal implications of companies “going green?”
Regulation of business practices worldwide is moving towards heightened standards of sustainability. The United States is still determining how to implement environmental protection laws such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. Each provide rights of action and some groups are pushing the legislature farther through judicial action, e.g. the Atmospheric Trust Litigation. Attorneys will need to advice organizations on ways to move forward while meeting these regulations, and, if they do not, defend them against a lawsuit. Further, the United States is not alone in regulating business. As other countries adopt heightened standards, United States companies must either adapt or cease marketing products there.
As a law student it is important to consider how “going green” will affect the future organizations we work with or work for. A fascinating thing about the law is that it touches almost every aspect of life and the ramifications of what we do, or do not do, will be subject to the law. As attorneys, just like businesses, our strategic decisions shape the future of not only our communities, but potentially greater society. For example, in June the Oregon Court of Appeals remanded the Atmospheric Trust Litigation to the lower court for trial. Overruling the dismissal and allowing concerned members of the public to challenge the Governor and legislature’s slow reduction of acceptable carbon dioxide levels could have far-reaching effects. Especially on manufacturers.