EPA To End COVID-19 Enforcement Discretion Policy

On June 30, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it plans to terminate its controversial COVID-19 Enforcement Discretion Policy (Policy) on August 31, 2020. The temporary Policy allowed EPA to exercise case-by-case enforcement discretion for environmental legal obligations during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The Agency cites public health response and economic recovery efforts as well as a relaxing of social distancing restrictions as reasons for lifting the policy. EPA Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine said that as those restrictions ease, "so too may the restrictions that potentially impede regulatory compliance, reducing the circumstances in which the temporary policy may apply."

The Policy has drawn much criticism from conservation groups and has been challenged in court by several states, including California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Virginia and Vermont. It is unclear at this time what will be required of regulated entities that failed to report pollution while the Policy was in effect. 

KMCL attorneys have been tracking developments in this area. Please do not hesitate to contact KMCL if you have questions about the effects of this Policy repeal.