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9 States Challenge EPA’s COVID-19 Enforcement Policy

Posted on 5/18/2020 by Roger Marks

Attorneys General from nine states filed suit against US EPA over the agency’s Temporary Policy on environmental enforcement during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The states filed the complaint to “challenge a final agency policy under which EPA has stated it ‘will not’ enforce a wide range of monitoring and reporting requirements under federal environmental laws” on May 13 in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Attorneys General from California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Virginia have this to say about EPA’s COVID-19 enforcement policy:

“…rather than exercising enforcement discretion as authorized by law, EPA issued a broad, open-ended policy that gives regulated parties free rein to self-determine when compliance with federal environmental laws is not practical because of COVID-19.”

Issued on March 26, 2020, EPA’s temporary enforcement policy applies to civil violations of routine environmental monitoring and reporting obligations.

Petition for Emergency Rulemaking

These nine states are not the first to file suit concerning EPA’s COVID-19 policy.  

On April 1, groups including the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) petitioned EPA to create an emergency rulemaking that would obligate companies to inform the public of their intention invoke the COVID-19 defense. After waiting two weeks for a response from EPA, the groups filed suit on April 16.

The suit asks the Court “to order EPA to respond to the emergency rulemaking petition as soon as possible.” 

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