02 July 2020

EPA Amends Its COVID-19-Related Temporary Enforcement Guidance

On June 29, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) amended its COVID‑19‑related temporary enforcement policy. As previously reported, EPA issued temporary COVID-19 Enforcement Guidance on March 26, 2020, providing guidelines on how EPA will, in certain cases, exercise discretion in enforcing environmental legal obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The policy is retroactive to March 13, 2020, but had no explicit termination date. Citing relaxed social distancing requirements in certain states and an increase of COVID-19 cases in others, EPA stated that it was appropriate to amend the temporary policy to include a termination date of August 31, 2020 – a date that “recognizes that the circumstances surrounding the temporary policy are changing, but also ensures that there is adequate time to adjust to the changing circumstances.” EPA advised that it would not base the exercise of its enforcement discretion on the temporary policy for noncompliance occurring after that time. EPA also acknowledged that changing circumstances may warrant earlier termination of the temporary policy, for which it would provide at least seven days’ prior notice. EPA reserved its rights to exercise case-by-case enforcement discretion, both before or after the temporary policy is terminated.