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Home > Green News > SOLUTIONS MAGAZINE > Special Reports > Special Reports and Featured Products about Green Best Practices > Vision!

But It's Legal! Supply Chain of Our Laws

The supply chain of "laws" show that we need more than legal compliance to cope with today's risks and community survival.

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California Green Chemistry Initiative I had an interesting conversation with one of our readers about pollution, cleanup and government fines. And then the conversation ranged to oil supplies, the US oil reserve fields, and funding Middle Eastern terrorism.

Pondering those gigantic issues made me realize that I've been leaving out half the story of business sustainability and green solutions.

Action for Solutions PLUS Community Structure

One half is our individual action -- our prevention and solutions. The other half is community structure.

The point was made that if companies follow the law, they should not be penalized, sued or fined by Super Fund or similar compliance efforts. Following the law is all a company can -- or should have to do.

Cleaning up is so hard to do!

The example of law abiding business practices was a Los Angeles story: when Lockheed followed the Fire Department's orders to use a particular cleaner because it was non-flammable. The tank leaked and contaminated the majority of Burbank's groundwater supply. Lockheed was required to pump out the contaminated water, clean it, and put it back over several years. They complied. Then the air pollution enforcers sued Lockheed for contaminating the air with the pollutants they removed from the water. Lockheed gave up and left the state.

They followed the law. Should they be hounded for the results of their fully legal actions?

Our conversation covered the fact that in the '50s through '70s, many of us just didn't know that ground water was so critical or could be so easily contaminated. Or habitat. Or oil contamination from dirt roads innocently sprayed with oil to cut the annoying dust.

We just didn't know any better. And neither did the lawmakers.

With the explosion in scientific research and comparisons made possible by high-speed computing, today we know better. We can connect the dots between pollutants and natural resource depletion and destruction.

What did we learn from those early "legal limits"?

Have we learned that legal isn't enough? Have we learned that we need common sense, best practices, localization, and vision for our children's future? Have we learned that we are the adults and that our actions matter? Have we learned that we need to PREVENT problems, not just assume future somebodies will change our diaper...I mean clean up our "mess"?

I'm not sure we took to heart the lesson our parents try to teach us as children: clean up after yourself! (And shut the door to keep the flies out!) But companies are still insisting that they follow the law on gas mileage. On diesel use. On coal burning for electricity generation. On globalization of manufacturing and indiscriminate shipping of products to and fro. Etc.

Our Lawmaking Process

That brings the process for lawmaking into the conversation. If the law is the ONLY criteria we use, we must look at how the laws are made -- much like we must look not only at how we use a piece of equipment, but the supply chain that constructs that equipment from raw materials, labor and processes that cause greenhouse gases, etc.

What is the "Supply Chain of Laws"?

The supply chain not only includes broken systems and public votes, but lawmakers vying for votes, advocacy groups, bureaucracy and lobbyists involved in that supply chain that creates time-stamped laws, rules and policies that businesses use as the final word on whether they are "legal."

How good can laws be -- how complete, scientifically based, practical and forward thinking -- how practical can laws really be with that kind of supply chain? It's biased. It's cumbersome. It's slow. It's inadequate for the fluidness of life and dynamic natural systems.

So following the law isn't good enough any longer. Our natural systems can't withstand more legally-condoned greenhouse gases, more destruction of natural estuaries that are the nurseries of the oceans. Businesses must use laws as the starting point -- and add to that inadequate curb other forms of intelligence at their disposal: fast changing scientific findings, their conscience, their intuition, their concern for their families and neighbors.

Business Policy Supercedes the Legal Supply Chain

A new supply chain for business policies must evolve as we realize that "laws" just aren't enough in our global, fast paced world. Stakeholders need to be identified and their innovative thinking brought into the business mix.

Visionaries need to be part of our social supply chain...and part of our society's productivity division called "business". And we need to realize that other forms of productivity are part of our successful survival. We need families to nurture children -- they are our workers of tomorrow. We need education, faith-based organizations, parks, health care, governance...a robust mix of stakeholders weaving the tapestry of our existence...and our quality of life.

After all, law can't dictate what happens in any inner sanctum -- bedroom or boardroom. We need ethics and morals right alongside laws if we are to curb our voracious appetite for progress at the expense of our life supporting natural systems.

We need more than laws. And we need to think through the supply chain for our laws and our policies and our procedures.

...and as far as pollution and climate change go, we need to give more street cred to one of the least favorite words in the English language -- prevention.

Carolyn Allen
Publisher



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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