NATIONAL—Last week, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officially suspended the enforcement of environmental laws, including those pertaining to construction. The suspension exempts any company that can prove it is unable to comply with environmental laws due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The suspension is retroactive to March 13, 2020. The EPA has not yet set an end date for the suspension.
The policy applies to civil violations during the COVID-19 outbreak. It does not provide leniency for intentional criminal violations of law, according to the agency's press release. It also does not apply to activities carried out under Superfund and/or RCRA Corrective Action enforcement instruments.
"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," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "This temporary policy is designed to provide enforcement discretion under the current, extraordinary conditions, while ensuring facility operations continue to protect human health and the environment."
The EPA will post a notice 7 days prior to ending the temporary policy.
Since announcing the suspension, the EPA has come under fire for the decision by various environmental groups and the Democratic House of Representatives.