New law gives small business help on enviro rules
A new law scheduled to go into effect next month is designed to make it easier for New Hampshire’s small businesses to navigate the maze of environmental regulations and requirements. Senate Bill 201, which goes into effect Sept. 12, ensures that small businesses have access to advocacy, representation and information on environmentally related issues by beefing up the role of and assistance provided by the Department of Environmental Services’ Small Business Technical Assistance Program. Originally launched in 1992, SBTAP offers assistance in understanding and complying with air quality, hazardous materials, wastewater, stormwater and solid waste regulations. It also works in partnership with other agencies to connect small-business owners with resources that can address concerns about OSHA compliance, zoning, planning building inspection and fire code requirements. The agency includes consultative services, a Compliance Advisory Panel and a small business ombudsman, all charged with aiding New Hampshire’s small-business owners in better understanding and complying with DES regulations. “This legislation formally expands the services available to small-business owners in understanding and complying with sometimes confusing and difficult environmental regulations,” said Rudy Cartier, the agency’s small business ombudsman. “It provides the small-business community a voice within the department to ensure they are made aware of proposed regulatory changes and ensures their concerns are properly addressed.” According to Cartier, SB 201 formalizes the advocacy role of the Small Business Technical Assistance Program and expands the duties of the seven-member Compliance Advisory Panel to include review of DES outreach, education and technical assistance material. “The Compliance Advisory Panel is charged with reviewing all the environmentally related information going out to the small-business community, ensuring it is complete and understandable,” Cartier said. The panel is composed of four owners or representatives of businesses, two members of the general public and one DES representative. Finally, the new legislation also guarantees small-business owners a single contact person to address their questions and concerns. Cartier himself fills this role as DES’s Small Business ombudsman and is charged with advocating for small businesses. “I see my job as that of a translator. I try to take the technical jargon of the regulations and translate it into language that can be easily understood,” said Cartier, who also uses his position as ombudsman to connect small-business owners with the resources that can best address their questions or needs. SB 201 was originally introduced to the Energy and Economic Development Committee on January 27 at the request of the DES according to Sen. Ted Gatsas, R-Manchester, who sponsored the legislation. “This was really a housekeeping procedure to make the process of accessing information a little bit easier for the small-business man to follow so there wasn’t such a quagmire if they were seeking out help from the ombudsman,” Senator Gatsas said. Randy Dunn, owner of Souhegan Wood Products of Wilton knows first-hand how important access to the SBTAP ombudsman is. “We are working hard at doing what we can so that our company creates a smaller environmental footprint,” Dunn said. “Rudy has interceded on our behalf time and time again and is aiding us at a municipal level with the appropriate process of acquiring a revised unloading system for our sawdust.” For more information, call Cartier at 271-5629.