What is an Environmental Consultant?

This post is an excerpt from my August 2011 newsletter… it is more ‘markety‘ than I would like my posts to be but I think this is a great way to kick off this blog and what I hope to be a great discussion among environmental compliance professionals.

What is an Environmental Consultant?

by Tammy L. Endlish, May 23, 2017

Contractor or Consultant?

I am often asked to define the difference between an environmental consultant and an environmental contractor in relation to my career choice and business services.  I have been considering this more thoughtfully, wondering where I truly fit in. So I did what any reasonable person would do– I googled it!

An environmental consultant is often a compliance consultant, ensuring that the client maintains an appropriate measure of compliance with environmental regulations.

An environmental contractor completes various environmental projects (e.g., permit applications, plans, or reports) for the client.

Endlish Environmental & Energy LLC provides both services but more commonly the latter even though many companies could benefit from the former.

As your environmental consultant, I will meet with you and determine your facility’s requirements with respect to environmental compliance. This typically occurs through an environmental compliance assessment. I will then provide a written report outlining the major environmental areas (air, waste, water, SARA, oil storage), the applicable requirements, the facility’s compliance status, and recommendations for improvement. If you need me to complete the applications, plans, or reports that are necessary to achieve environmental compliance, I will then serve as an environmental contractor to complete the process.

Often, a client will call and ask for help with a specific project. Typically these clients have well-established environmental programs but are too busy to complete the project in the timeframe required. Other times, a client will call when they are neck-deep in compliance issues and they need some help digging out. I can serve as a contractor for both but the latter could have benefitted from hiring a consultant early on to identify compliance issues, assess the record keeping systems, and ensure that all required applications and reports had been submitted. Violations identified and corrected prior to discovery by the regulatory agencies still have potential for notices of violation (NOV) or findings and orders (F&O) but it is always preferable to have been proactive and have compliance achieved (or well underway) before the Agency discovers it.  This can have a positive impact on whether enforcement action is pursued and any resultant penalties. Most agencies have enforcement discretion and they are not afraid to use it!