1 1 (August 07, 2020)

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               Researh Sevice






COVID-19: U.S. Environmental Protection

Agency Enforcement Discretion Policy



Updated August 7, 2020

On June 29, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would terminate its
temporary policy, COVID-I 9 Implications for EPA's Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
Program, on August 31, 2020. EPA issued the policy on March 26, 2020, outlining how it would exercise
its enforcement discretion if a facility owner or operator cannot comply with certain requirements of
federal environmental laws because of impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The policy,
retroactive to March 13, 2020, is tailored to circumstances of the pandemic that may affect staffing,
physical access for monitoring and sampling, laboratory analysis, and other resources needed to fulfill
routine compliance obligations.
EPA also issued other related COVID-19 policies and guidance that cover pesticide imports, field work at
cleanup sites under Superfund and other federal programs, a nationwide fuel waiver for summer gasoline,
and emergency generator operations in Puerto Rico.


Scope of EPA Policy

The EPA March 26 policy outlines several criteria and procedures for a facility owner or operator to
demonstrate that COVID- 19 impacts prevented compliance with routine monitoring or reporting
requirements under federal statute, regulation, or permit. The policy similarly applies to routine
compliance obligations specified in federal consent decrees or settlements.
The policy provides separate instructions for notification if (1) facility operations impacted by COVID- 19
may present an acute risk or an imminent threat to human health or the environment or (2) a facility may
exceed enforceable limitations on air emissions, water discharges, land disposal, or other unauthorized
releases. The policy does not broadly waive federal requirements to control pollution and wastes and
indicates that EPA would determine the appropriate enforcement response for exceedances.
The policy includes additional guidance for the continued operation of public water systems and other
critical infrastructure during the pandemic. On March 31, 2020, EPA issued supplemental guidance for
reporting wastewater discharges under Clean Water Act permits.



                                                               Congressional Research Service
                                                                 https://crsreports.congress.gov
                                                                                     IN11396

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