Justice Department Allows Corporations to Delay Paying Environmental Fines Amid Pandemic

Ten corporations that agreed to a total of $56m in civil penalties for allegedly breaking environmental laws are not being required to make payments under a pause granted by the Justice Department during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to The Guardian newspaper.

The companies signed settlements with the government agreeing to pay fines without admitting liability, but the Justice Department last month advised most of the companies of extensions in letters which were obtained by the government watchdog group Accountable.US via public records requests.

The companies will not be required to pay penalties before 1 June, although they have the option to do so and at least two companies told The Guardian they made payments despite the extension. The EPA did not respond to inquiries about its policy and or say which companies paid penalties.

The Justice Department on April 14th sent letters to the affected companies, offering to temporarily suspend collection of the payments, following the EPA’s announcement in March that it would ease some enforcement requirements. The Justice Department said the suspension was meant to “mitigate the financial impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.”

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