By Andrew H. PerellisJeryl L. OlsonPatrick D. Joyce, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: On June 29, 2020, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a memorandum regarding termination of the COVID-19 temporary enforcement policy. EPA has selected August 31, 2020 as the termination date for its temporary enforcement policy. Also updated were EPA’s Frequent Questions About the Temporary COVID-19 Enforcement Policy.

In support of the U.S. Government’s overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic, EPA previously issued a temporary enforcement discretion policy, COVID-19 Implications for EPAs Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program (3/26/2020), that applied to civil violations during the COVID-19 outbreak. See our earlier blog, EPA Enforcement Discretion Policy for COVID-19 Pandemic, for detailed discussion of the temporary policy.

EPA has now announced that this temporary policy will terminate on August 31, 2020, and EPA will return to its pre-COVID enforcement guidelines. This means that the EPA will not base any exercise of enforcement discretion on this temporary policy for any noncompliance that occurs after August 31, 2020.

According to EPA, it is terminating its temporary policy because “new federal guidelines and directives have been issued to support both the public health response and economic recovery efforts, and many parts of the country have already taken steps to relax social distancing restrictions in parts or all of individual states, with the goal of returning to normal operations. As state and local restrictions are relaxed or lifted, so too may the restrictions that potentially impede regulatory compliance, reducing the circumstances in which the temporary policy may apply.”

For more information on this or any related topic please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Seyfarth Environmental Compliance, Enforcement & Permitting Team.