Southern Illinois University Law Journal, Vol. 33, No. 3 (Spring 2009), pp. 367-401

Abstract

This Article examines the legal mechanics underlying the sustainable commerce private/public governance paradigm whereby industry and government create sustainable commerce initiatives which coordinately grow local/state economies and employment, enhance local/state competitiveness in the global marketplace, and at the same time substantially improve local/state public health and environmental infrastructure. This includes an examination of the legal foundation for state/local sustainable commerce initiatives drawn from existing public health and environmental law and a review of two specific local/state sustainable commerce initiatives which have followed this paradigm with impressive results over a two-to-four year timeframe. Part II of this Article examines how public health and environmental law bases provide legal authority and policy rationales upon which to construct local/state sustainable commerce initiatives. Part III examines how a small Georgia town, Ringgold—the county seat for Catoosa County, GA—recently implemented sustainable commerce initiatives, allowing this North Georgia community to actively participate in market-based low-carbon sustainable commerce initiatives which not only address legacy environmental and public health issues, but which create economic opportunities into the future. Part IV outlines how global industry now fulfills its own sustainable commerce programs requiring U.S. manufacturers to meet detailed environmental and public health metrics for both corporate operations and product life cycle analysis as a condition of purchasing their goods and services. Part IV also details how one U.S. manufacturer, the Murray Corporation, created management systems based on the ISO standard series to address customer environmental and public health metrics for their operations and products in order to qualify as an approved vendor for sales overseas. Part V then concludes with a continued discussion of ISO standard-based management systems as a key legal and regulatory tool by which local government and industry can coordinately construct sustainable commerce initiatives which ensure government and industry will successfully attain defined sustainable commerce goals. The example is drawn from the experience of the U.S. public health system. This discussion includes a review of how ISO-based third party assurance systems complement existing common and statutory law to achieve aggressive sustainable commerce timelines and goals over the immediate future (2–4 year timeframe).