Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh joined 13 other state attorneys general in submitting a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting an end to the Agency’s rollback of environmental protection enforcement.
On March 26 EPA Assistant Administrator Susan Parker Bodine sent out a memo explaining that the Agency does not expect to seek penalties for polluters that do not comply with pollution tracking and reporting requirements during the COVID-19 crisis – granted the organization can link the noncompliance to the crisis. Several entities had previously complained that due to social distancing guidelines and COVID-19 related staffing challenges, some mandated requirements for testing, tracking and reporting were simply too difficult to comply with. Many environmental advocacy groups quickly signaled their opposition to the policy change.
Several states including Maryland declared that they would continue regular enforcement despite the leeway given from the EPA. Yesterday Attorney General Brian Frosh signed on to a letter detailing several issues with the EPA’s policy change, and requesting the Agency reverse its decision and continue regular enforcement.
From the letter:
Although there are a number of problems with the policy (including its overbroad scope, retroactivity, and lack of expiration date), we are particularly concerned about the agency’s lack of consideration of the policy’s potential impact on public health, especially the health of low income and minority communities who are greater risk of suffering adverse outcomes from COVID-19.
In light of these concerns, we call on EPA to rescind the policy. EPA can provide guidance to companies without putting the health of our communities at even greater risk than they are already facing.
Attorneys General for the following states signed on to the letter: New York, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
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