On July 17-18 NAEM will host its annual EHS Compliance Excellence conference at General Mills Inc.’s headquarters in Minneapolis. As part of this event, the members of NAEM’s Upper Midwest chapter will take the opportunity to discuss how local, regional and global compliance issues affect Minnesota business. Here are a few of the issues I expect we’ll address at the chapter meeting next month:
- Global Regulations with Local Impacts: Business requirements are changing on a regular basis. It is not just about complying with Minnesota or even U.S. environment, health and safety requirements any longer. Whether you are the exporter or you supply an exporter, global regulations are having an impact on your business. If you’re publicly traded, for example, you’re impacted by the Security and Exchange Commission’s Conflict Mineral regulation. The basic premise of the regulation is supply chain transparency. The regulation requires companies that use metals such as tin, tantalum or tungsten in their products or their processes to do a supply chain due diligence review, to determine the mine from which the metal ores originated. The goal is to eliminate human rights violations, funded by ore sales from the Great Lakes region in Central Africa, more specifically, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the surrounding countries. With the trickle-down effect, a small company in Minnesota, which may not be publicly traded,may still be affected because their customer base is. So even though they don’t have a legal obligation to go through the supply chain due diligence, their customers are forcing them to think and react to these issues.
- Regional Approach to Water Management: Minnesota takes great pride in its water resource and water has been a huge topic of discussion up here. Long-term management decisions about how we use our surface and ground waters impact businesses in the state and downstream. Impacts of growing populations, business demands, recreational use and the needs of water users downstream of Minnesota all need to be balanced at part of any future water use plan.
- The Status of Minnesota’s Ozone Attainment Status: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established a new eight-hour ozone standard in 2008. Since that time, Minnesota has been moving closer and closer to ‘nonattainment‘. A nonattainment designation for our area could cost state businesses up to $240 million, due to increase federal requirements. This type of cost could fuel discussions about what we can do, on a voluntary basis, to reduce the pollution that causes ozone. How do we make the business case when the regulatory requirement is not present? Working with others businesses and our regulators to develop and implement regional solutions are key. It all starts with understanding what the issues and possible solutions may be.
This is a huge opportunity for Minnesota businesses to hear from companies other than the local ones, and to engage in some networking and talk about shared issues. I’m a big believer in the power of the network and that’s what NAEM is all about. This is not going to be the nuts and bolts on how to comply. This is going to be bigger picture. How do you fit a compliance program into your business and make it work?
We hope you’ll take this chance to join us and share your ideas!