EPA Sets End Date for Controversial Enforcement Policy

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week announced that they have set an end date of August 31 for their temporary policy that relaxes pollution monitoring and reporting requirements during the COVID-19 crisis. 

In March, 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. One of the core complaints organizations and coalitions stressed regarding the temporary policy was a lack of an end date. EPA announced the end date for the controversial policy as an addendum to the initial memo.

As states and businesses begin to re-open, there will be a period of adjustment as regulated entities plan how to effectively comply both with environmental legal obligations and with public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other agencies regarding actions suggested to stem the transmission and spread of COVID-19. In light of these developments, it is now appropriate to expressly include a provision in the temporary policy that covers termination of the temporary policy, and to make such changes to the policy as are needed to reflect the impact of the changing circumstances on facility operations, worker shortages, and other constraints caused by the public health emergency. Accordingly, I am today revising the temporary policy to add the following new section. I have selected August 31, 2020, as the termination date for the temporary policy because it reflects the appropriate balancing of the relevant factors

While House Democrats are glad to see an end date for the policy, they continue to believe it was unnecessary from the beginning,and pledged to continue oversight of the Agency.

From a statement by committee leaders:

“Make no mistake: we will never tolerate the COVID-19 crisis being used as cover to weaken environmental and human health protections. If anything, the current national emergency demands stronger protections and heightened public health efforts across government — not weaker ones.”

Previous Coverage on Conduit Street:

EPA Relaxing Enforcement of Environmental Regulations

Frosh Signs on to Letter Requesting End to EPA Policy

Environmental Advocacy Groups Sue EPA Over Relaxed Enforcement Policy