The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) continues to face backlash over its policy relaxing certain monitoring and reporting obligations under various federal environmental laws amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week nine states’ attorneys general sued the U.S. EPA in the Southern District of New York in the action titled State of New York et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency et al., No. 1:20-cv-03714, in which New York, California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont, and Virginia contend the U.S. EPA’s decision …Continue Reading
As the nation continues to navigate its way through the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, we wanted to pass along some updated information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). Our blog post from March 19, 2020, remains a good primer on COVID-19 and drinking water, but there are a few updates to provide amid what appears to be an uptick in speculation about the transmission of the virus in sewage.
Two researchers at the …Continue Reading
It would be hard to imagine there is anyone in the country who is unaffected, let alone unaware, of the dramatic steps imposed by federal, state, and local governments to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. However, government restrictions prohibiting the operation of many “non-essential” businesses, bans against large gatherings, “stay at home orders,” and mandatory remote employment have a major impact beyond the obvious immediate economic hardships. They also have caused thousands of buildings and facilities to remain unoccupied or at best occupied …Continue Reading
On April 16, 2020 a coalition of environmental groups commenced the action National Resources Defense Council, et al. v. U.S. EPA et al., No. 20-3058, in the Southern District of New York, over concerns about the EPA’s policy on “enforcement discretion” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiffs are demanding that the EPA be compelled to respond to a Petition for Emergency Rulemaking filed on April 1, 2020, requesting that the EPA publish an interim final rule to ensure prompt public notice of …Continue Reading
As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to calibrate its response to COVID-19, the agency issued interim guidance on how to conduct environmental cleanups in light of the ongoing pandemic. The guidance applies to cleanups under CERLCA, RCRA, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Oil Pollution Act, and the Underground Storage Tank program.
The interim guidance does not provide any blanket work stoppage, nor does it toll any deadlines. Rather, it provides that the EPA continues to make decisions about continuing, reducing, or pausing …Continue Reading
On April 1, a group of twenty-one organizations sent a petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seeking accountability for companies that utilize a recently announced non-enforcement policy. The policy pertains to a relaxation of U.S. EPA enforcement of environmental testing, monitoring, and other compliance-related activities. The petition requests that EPA publish a new rule that requires public notification when a facility does not conduct environmental monitoring or reporting in reliance on EPA’s non-enforcement policy.
As previously reported, the EPA published a memorandum on …Continue Reading
As many individuals read this from the safety of their homes, significant time and energy is focused around the impact on human health, the economy, our families, and so many other areas that have been impacted by COVID-19. However, while the thought of entire cities, trains, airports, and public businesses being shut down indefinitely has evoked fear among many individuals, a byproduct of this crisis is the significant reduction, albeit temporary, in the world’s output of greenhouse gases. According to a recent Forbes article, …Continue Reading
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a temporary policy regarding EPA enforcement of environmental legal obligations during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On March 26, 2020, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated: “EPA is committed to protecting human health and the environment, but recognizes challenges resulting from efforts to protect workers and the public from COVID-19 may directly impact the ability of regulated facilities to meet all federal regulatory requirements.” As a result, the EPA’s temporary enforcement discretion policy – which is designed to provide …Continue Reading
As the coronavirus continues to spread across the nation, states throughout the country are ordering citizens to stay at home and not report to work. All orders, however, contain carve out exceptions for essential or life-sustaining activities, such as providing health care, medicine, and food. Yet, these orders have created much uncertainty as to what constitutes essential or life-sustaining activities. Arguably, many activities not directly related to containment of the coronavirus are still essential and/or life-sustaining. As with every aspect of the country’s economy, the coronavirus …Continue Reading
Last week the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) jointly announced the suspension of certain rules through July 31, 2020, in an effort to allow utility operators to “focus their resources on keeping people safe and the lights on during this unprecedented public health emergency.” NERC, a nonprofit corporation devoted to reducing risks to the reliability and security of the electrical grid across North America, develops and enforces the Reliability Standards, which are designed to ensure …Continue Reading