EPA’s pandemic-related enforcement relaxation to end in August (1)

The EPA will end its relaxed enforcement policy in response to the coronavirus pandemic on Aug. 31, according to a publicly released memo.

Since the policy was put in place, new federal guidelines have been issued to support the public health response and economic recovery efforts, Susan Parker Bodine, the EPA’s assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assistance, wrote in the memo dated Monday.

“As state and local restrictions are relaxed or lifted, so too may the restrictions that potentially impede regulatory compliance, reducing the circumstances in which the temporary policy may apply,” Bodine wrote.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced its temporary enforcement policy March 26. It stopped the agency from seeking penalties from those not performing routine environmental compliance monitoring, integrity testing, sampling, laboratory analysis, training, and reporting or certification activities if they were unable to do so because of the pandemic.

The EPA won’t base any exercise of enforcement discretion on that policy for any noncompliance that occurs after Aug. 31, Bodine’s memo said.

Adjustment Period

It also said that because some states are seeing an increase in coronavirus cases, “there will be a period of adjustment” as businesses plan how to comply with both their environmental legal obligations and with public health guidance.

The EPA also may end the temporary policy “at any earlier time,” in response to changing conditions in a state or region, Bodine wrote. Should that happen, the EPA will provide seven days’ public notice.

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