EPA suspends its enforcement of environmental laws as a result of COVID-19
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EPA suspends its enforcement of environmental laws as a result of COVID-19

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a temporary policy regarding EPA enforcement of a variety of environmental laws on Thursday, saying regulated entities may have trouble complying with environmental standards due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The temporary policy applies to civil violations involving noncompliance and outlines what types of offenses will not be penalized as a result of the ongoing pandemic. Namely, the agency says under the policy, it will not “seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting obligations.” Although the plan seems tolerant when it comes to civil violations, the EPA made clear there will be no leniency for criminal violations of environmental law.

“EPA is committed to protecting human health and the environment, but recognizes challenges resulting from efforts to protect workers and the public from COVID-19 may directly impact the ability of regulated facilities to meet all federal regulatory requirements,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

The enforcement discretion policy also describes the steps that regulated facilities should take to be eligible for enforcement discretion, such as the requirement that facilities document decisions made to mitigate noncompliance and demonstrate how the spread of the virus caused the infringement.

While the EPA has set no end date for the temporary policy, the agency said it will assess the continued need for this temporary policy regularly and will update it if modifications are deemed necessary.