On April 10, 2020, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its anticipated Interim Guidance (Guidance) to regional offices on field work at contaminated sites during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guidance follows EPA’s earlier interim guidance on enforcement discretion, which did not apply to Superfund and RCRA Corrective Action sites.1

The Guidance recognizes that field work at certain sites will be delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, the press release accompanying the Guidance stated that EPA has reduced or paused work at approximately 34 sites, or 12% of all EPA-led sites with ongoing remedial actions due to the pandemic. The Guidance favors factors over bright line rules for how decisions to pause work should be made to promote nationally consistent decisions.
Continue Reading EPA Issues Interim Guidance for Site Field Work Decisions Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 26, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued guidance regarding enforcement discretion in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance acknowledges that COVID-19 may impair compliance with environmental laws and regulations and sets forth the steps that regulated entities must take to qualify for enforcement relief. The policy is retroactive to March 13, 2020, and has no end date.

General Conditions for Enforcement Discretion.

The guidance provides that regulated entities should make every effort to comply with their obligations, but if compliance is not reasonably practicable, they should:

(a) act responsibly to minimize the effects and duration of noncompliance;

(b) identify the nature and dates of noncompliance;

(c) identify how COVID-19 was the cause of noncompliance, and the decisions and actions taken in response, including best efforts to comply and steps taken to come into compliance at the earliest opportunity;

(d) return to compliance as soon as possible; and

(e) document the information, action or condition specified in (a)-(d).
Continue Reading EPA Enforcement Discretion Policy in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic