Green Jobs in Regulation, Compliance, and Enforcement

Progress toward a sustainable future relies on eco-conscious action, which can mean enforcing the repercussions against environmentally harmful actions. A green career transition may yield job opportunities the fields of regulation, compliance, and enforcement, where you can make a difference in the green economy.

After a legislative bill is signed by the president, the law spells out what’s expected in a certain circumstance. Agencies within the executive branch of government or public authority must then develop regulations that help the country reach the goal spelled out in the law. Within the environmental realm, these regulations may cover pollution, water quality, air quality, toxic waste, or other issues.

  • Rulemaking: When agencies develop regulations, they embark on a multi-step process called rulemaking to come up with the specific standards that industries and businesses must adhere to. Often during the process they rely on scientific and industry experts to provide the necessary details to make the original law workable. The rulemaking process is structured to ensure transparency.

  • Compliance: As soon as the regulation is in place, the next step is to take actions to ensure that industries and businesses comply with the law. Several tactics are used to make this process as efficient and as effective as possible.

    • Compliance assistance uses workshops and training materials to educate the companies about the regulations and requirements.

    • Compliance monitoring entails inspections to help companies understand where they are in compliance and where they need to enhance their processes and standards.

    • Compliance incentives and auditing provide companies with the option of self-disclosing the problems they know about. Often the regulatory agency sets up an incentive program to encourage companies to fess up.

  • Enforcement: When violations are discovered during compliance, authorities must act to enforce the law. The appropriate action depends on the situation. The follow-up may trigger a civil or criminal enforcement process. In other cases, as in a toxic spill or release, the focus will be on cleaning up the environment first and foremost. Penalties of varying severity are levied as necessary.

In 1970 the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) started a new era of transparency and collaboration between communities and federal agencies. All federal agencies were required to examine the impact of their proposals on the environment and prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

When possible, the EPA looks for nonregulatory ways to achieve the goals of the laws they are required to uphold. The EPA can sometimes negotiate a voluntary partnership, create economic programs to encourage action, or enhance technological solutions through support and training.

If this kind of career sounds intriguing to you, consider some of the following examples of potential jobs in regulation, compliance, and enforcement.

  • Rulemaking: Federal information policy director, program coordinator, consultant, environmental protection specialist

  • Compliance: Chief compliance officer (CCO), emissions certification and compliance specialist, compliance engineer, global trade compliance sustainability manager, environmental engineer, quality assurance, environmental compliance program specialist, regulatory compliance analyst, regulatory compliance specialist, regulatory compliance manager, environmental and regulatory advisor, compliance counsel

  • Enforcement: Environmental enforcement attorney, code inspection specialist, code enforcement officer, inspector, prosecutor, enforcement specialist, civil investigator, regional counsel, enforcement specialist paralegal

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