It’s the summer, so I’m an intern again. Like last year, I’m working as an engineer at a large industrial plant. At my current job and jobs before it, I have heard people mention that people view environmental concerns differently than other concerns, and that this comes from the fact that environmental compliance is usually handled by a specialized group.

With direct environmental regulations, compliance usually has to be handled by specialized group that understands the relevant regulations. For example, during the school year, when I had a large design project class, we had a specialized group that handled the environmental impacts, they had to know the regulations which the rest of us knew little about.

In industry, there seems to be a tendency for people outside of the environmetnal group tend to view the environmental group as meddling with their activities. This probably makes compliance with environmental regulations more difficult than it could be. However, as environmental policy moves towards market based solutions, industrial plant engineers and operators will take over those areas that use markets and incorporate those prices into their decision making; instead of saying “the environmental department is messing with my design!”, they will say “oh, the cost of water is really high right now.” This will reduce wasted efforts, and help the environment more cheaply.