The 1990 Clean Air Act (Act) Amendments established new regulatory permitting, operating and control requirements with the potential to impact small businesses. Congress recognized the difficulties that many small businesses would face in complying with the new regulations and directed each state government to establish a Small Business Technical and Environmental Compliance Assistance Program to assist the small business owners with environmental regulatory compliance.
The Act has set forth the criteria for a business to be considered a small business. It must be independently owned and operated and not dominant in its field, as defined by the Small Business Act. The business must employ 100 or fewer individuals and, in general, cannot emit more than 50 tons of a single pollutant per year, or 75 tons of all regulated pollutants per year.
The Small Business Technical Assistance Program in each state involves three components:
Small Business Ombudsman: Acts as the small business community's representative in matters that affect it under the Act.
Other duties of the Ombudsman include:
- Working with Trade Associations
- Investigating complaints
- Disseminating regulatory information
- Reviewing and commenting on EPA and State rulemaking
- Functioning as a small business advocate
Small Business Environmental Assistance Program (SBEAP): Provides support and technical assistance needed by small businesses to comply with the Act's requirements.
SBEAP responsibilities include:
- Notifying businesses of regulatory requirements
- Disseminating easy-to-understand techincal materials
- Conducting compliance audits
- Helping businesses deal with compliance problems
Compliance Advisory Panel (CAP): A seven-member panel that evaluates and determines the overall effectiveness of the state SBEAP. Four members are small business owners, or are selected by the state's legislature. Two members are selected by the governor to represent the general public. The seventh member is appointed by the head of the state agency responsible for issuing operating permits.
The CAP reviews and renders advisory opinions on the effectiveness of the SBEAP, and makes certain the information affecting small businesses is written in a style that is clear and understandable.