EPA Issues COVID-19 Guidance
March 27, 2020
By: M. Shane Harvey
On March 26, 2020, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) issued guidance on how the agency will address compliance and enforcement issues in light of COVID-19.
In its guidance, EPA acknowledges that illnesses, travel bans and social distancing may cause shortages in staffing that impact monitoring or compliance. Accordingly, the EPA provides that it will, under specifically enumerated circumstances, avoid seeking penalties when regulated entities are unable to comply with obligations such as monitoring requirements, discharge limitations or consent decree terms.
While the policy may provide some relief to operations impacted by COVID-19, regulated entities should be mindful of the following:
- EPA’s policy is not binding on States and would not prevent States from seeking penalties for any failure to comply with monitoring or compliance obligations.
- EPA’s policy only provides relief for obligations impacted by COVID-19. To obtain relief, regulated entities will need to document and provide evidence of the manner in which COVID-19 impacted compliance.
- EPA’s policy does not excuse criminal behavior. Willful violations of the law will be prosecuted.
EPA’s guidance goes applies beginning March 13, 2020. A link to the guidance can be found here.