EPA Ends Enforcement Discretion Policy for COVID-19 Pandemic on August 31

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Seyfarth Synopsis: On June 29, 2020, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a memorandum regarding termination of the COVID-19 temporary enforcement policy. EPA has selected August 31, 2020 as the termination date for its temporary enforcement policy. Also updated were EPA’s Frequent Questions About the Temporary COVID-19 Enforcement Policy.

In support of the U.S. Government’s overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic, EPA previously issued a temporary enforcement discretion policy, COVID-19 Implications for EPAs Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program (3/26/2020), that applied to civil violations during the COVID-19 outbreak. See our earlier blog, EPA Enforcement Discretion Policy for COVID-19 Pandemic, for detailed discussion of the temporary policy.

EPA has now announced that this temporary policy will terminate on August 31, 2020, and EPA will return to its pre-COVID enforcement guidelines. This means that the EPA will not base any exercise of enforcement discretion on this temporary policy for any noncompliance that occurs after August 31, 2020.

According to EPA, it is terminating its temporary policy because “new federal guidelines and directives have been issued to support both the public health response and economic recovery efforts, and many parts of the country have already taken steps to relax social distancing restrictions in parts or all of individual states, with the goal of returning to normal operations. As state and local restrictions are relaxed or lifted, so too may the restrictions that potentially impede regulatory compliance, reducing the circumstances in which the temporary policy may apply.”

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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