On March 26, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a memorandum about a temporary policy regarding EPA enforcement of environmental legal obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the policy, the EPA stopped seeking penalties for certain missed environmental obligations. The policy received mixed reactions from states and environmental groups. On June 29, 2020, EPA announced that it will be ending the controversial policy.
EPA’s addendum to its temporary policy recognizes that circumstances are changing and that state and local restrictions are now being relaxed or lifted. Accordingly, EPA acknowledges that restrictions which may impede regulatory compliance are also being relaxed or lifted. In light of these changes, EPA’s addendum states that it will terminate the temporary policy in its entirety at 11.59 p.m. on August 31, 2020. After August 31, 2020, EPA will no longer base its enforcement discretion on the temporary policy. EPA notes that it may decide to terminate the temporary policy earlier, but that it will provide seven days prior notice if it decides to do so.