This year more than 2,000 Missouri businesses will be required
to file for permits to operate in compliance with state and federal
clean air rules.
The simplest sort of permit - called a Basic permit in the
rules - could be relatively easy to obtain, but the red tape can
become uncomfortable for businesses requiring a more complicated
permit - called a Major permit.
Richard Waters, an environmental lawyer with Armstrong,
Teasdale, Schlafly & Davis, trecalls a case that generated a 3-inch
stack of documents. An outside consultant took 800 hours to prepare
the stack and an employee matched that time. And some stacks grow
two or three times as high, Waters said.
The need for all that paper - and for operating solutions to
environmental programs - has spawned an entire industry. The St.
Louis Yellow Pages lists more than 100 companies under
environmental and ecological services, including engineers,
consultants, laboratories, asbestos removers, waste-management
firms, real-estate appraisers and recycling programs. They also
include two big St. Louis companies, Monsanto Co. and Sverdrup Corp.
Monsanto Enviro-Chem estimates its annual revenue at more than
$150 million. Sverdrup Environmental does $50 million of business
a year, and wants to push that to $100 million in two years.
"A general estimate puts the national market at $100 billion,"
said Michael Neumann, a vice president at Sverdrup. "One hundred
billion is a boom figure. But for some it's a bust market.
"It's tricky. A company that we worked with on the Times Beach
project changed its name three times in 18 months. It was acquired
again and again. You weren't quite sure what its name was."
Anthony G. Corey, vice president for products and environmental
systems at Monsanto, described the industry as huge and highly
fragmented. He said a new company might succeed if it found a niche
and performed well. "But you have to be good at what you do," he
The immediate future of environmental projects seems to rest
with the new Congress. If Congress cuts programs deeply it will
carry the stigma of being "anti-environment." The issue could be a
hot political topic playing Congress against the Clinton
administration, which has taken a pro-environment stance.
But some cuts would not be fatal, Alan L. Farkas, an industry
consultant, told participants at a recent Washington conference. He
said that the $3 billion water quality market had grown 5 percent
in 1994, the best increase in four years. If the budgets of the
departments of Energy Defense are cut 10 percent to 15 percent in
the next two years, there still will be a strong market for
environmental constructors, he said.
Consultants will face tougher prospects. Action in the market
is shifting from identifying polluted sites to cleaning them up,
Farkas said. …