Environmental Compliance in California

Environmental Regulations

California has several environmental regulatory divisions within the California EPA (Cal EPA) including the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), Air Resources Board (ARB), the Water Resources Control Board, and CalRecycle. California’s environmental regulatory programs must meet Federal EPA laws. In contrast to many State administrative programs approved by Federal EPA, California EPA has enacted a significant number of additional enforceable environmental quality controls on businesses in the State.

California EPA divisions include water quality, air and waste management. These divisions enforce applicable California environmental regulations. Your business may likely have regulatory requirements to meet should you:

  1. Handle hazardous materials at or above specified thresholds;
  2. Produce, handle, store or transport hazardous waste(s);
  3. Treat hazardous waste;
  4. Produce, handle, store or transport universal wastes;
  5. Operate above ground storage tanks (AST’s) and/or underground storage tanks (UST’s);
  6. Produce and emit airborne contaminants;
  7. Discharge pollutants to surface waters and/or ground water.

Other State and/or local regulations may apply. In particular, discharge of pollutants to sewer generally requires a permit from the local sewer district authority. Fire jurisdictions also have regulatory authority when it comes to storage of hazardous material and/or wastes and storage for flammable and/or combustible materials. If your company transports hazardous materials and/or wastes, then other regulatory requirements may also apply.

In general, if you engage in any of the activities listed above, you will be required to obtain a permit and follow permit requirements. Permit conditions usually include recordkeeping, reporting, and integrating permit requirements into your environmental management system administration as well as to your employee training program. Making certain that employees have sufficient familiarity of permit conditions should boost your ability to ensure continued compliance. Of course there are penalties for failing to obtain a permit and/or violating terms of your permitted activities. It is also important to correctly and accurately apply for permit(s).

Administration of California Environmental Regulations

Division 20 of the Health & Safety Code Chapter 6.5 – Hazardous Waste Control 25100 et. seq. regulates the generation, handling, transportation, treatment, and disposal of hazardous wastes. California even has its own criteria for identifying and classifying hazardous wastes. Hazardous material management is also regulated by California’s Health & Safety Code, Title 19 which is administered by the DTSC (Department of Toxic Substances Control). Division 20, Chapter 6.95 covers hazardous materials management. Division 20 also covers universal waste management, and air quality and air quality management districts in the State.

The California DTSC (Department of Toxic Substances Control) administers regulations contained in California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 22, Division 4.5. regarding hazardous materials and hazardous wastes. Hazardous material management is also regulated by California’s Health & Safety Code, Title 19 as administered by the DTSC.

Regulations pertaining to the storage of hazardous materials and/or wastes in above ground storage tanks (AST’s) and underground storage tanks (UST’s) are specified in Title 23 of the California Health and Safety Code and administered by the State Water Resources Control Board.

In order to make informed decisions about your environmental liabilities, you have to understand which regulations apply and how best to meet their requirements. Ask us to review your operations and assess your potential environmental exposures. We can help you develop long-term compliance strategies and improve your profitability by ensuring effective management of your environmental regulatory requirements.


Workplace health and safety regulations and environmental regulations exist to protect well-being of workers as well as the environment in which we all live and work. California is a notable regulatory trend-setter and compliance with their far sighted and far-reaching regulations is a part of doing business in California. Besides the necessity of meeting regulatory requirements, as business practices have evolved and have incorporated regulatory compliance into a best practices model, supply chain requirements increasingly dictate the necessity of having effective management systems and meeting and/or exceeding regulatory requirements. For example, many businesses will only engage suppliers and vendors who can demonstrate a good regulatory compliance record and often then also verify certification with one or more EHS management systems. So besides obvious direct financial costs, failing to meet regulatory requirements can and does cancel business opportunities.

In our book, there is no substitute for compliance. Companies must do so regardless the degree of enforcement. That means that your management systems must be geared to naturally seek compliance and that your corporate culture is committed to meeting (or exceeding) occupational health and safety and environmental regulations. We are here to help you succeed by ensuring that you are able to meet regulatory requirements by seamlessly integrating those aspects into your management systems and corporate culture.

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