The EPA released a correction of a temporary policy regarding the enforcement of environmental legal obligations during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic
After a Mar. 26 U.S. EPA release of a temporary policy regarding the agency's enforcement of environmental legal obligations during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the agency released a correction.
According to the EPA, the temporary policy is not a license to pollute.
“We strongly encourage the press to actually read EPA’s Temporary Policy before repeating reckless propaganda about it,” said the EPA. “Instead of including factual information about the policy, outlets such as E&E News, The Hill, the AP, and the New York Times are relying on sources who falsely claim that the policy provides a blanket waiver of environmental requirements or creates a presumption that the pandemic is the cause of noncompliance.”
According to the policy, the EPA will not seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting requirements, if the EPA determines the noncompliance was caused by the pandemic.
This will be determined on a case-by-case basis, reported the EPA.
Regulated parties must document the basis for any claim that the pandemic prevented them from conducting routine monitoring and reporting and present it to EPA upon request.
“This action was necessary to avoid tying up EPA staff time with questions about routine monitoring and reporting requirements and instead allow EPA to focus on continued protection of human health and the environment,” added the release.
The COVID-19 pandemic will not excuse exceedance of pollutant limitations in permits, regulations and statutes. According to the press release, in cases involving acute risks, imminent threats, or failure of pollution control or other equipment, the facility must contact the appropriate EPA region or authorized state or tribe, in order to allow regulators to work with the facility.
EPA expects operators of public water systems to continue normal operations and maintenance during this time, as well as required sampling.
The measures in the policy are temporary and will be lifted as soon as normal operations can resume, according to the EPA.