The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday issued a sweeping suspension of its enforcement of environmental laws, telling companies they would not need to meet environment provisions during the coronavirus outbreak.
The temporary policy, for which EPA has set no end date, would allow any number of industries to skirt environmental laws, with the agency saying it will not “seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting obligations.”
Cynthia Giles, who headed EPA’s Office of Enforcement during the Obama administration, called it a moratorium on enforcing the nation’s environmental laws and an abdication of the agency’s duty.
“This EPA statement is essentially a nationwide waiver of environmental rules for the indefinite future. It tells companies across the country that they will not face enforcement even if they emit unlawful air and water pollution in violation of environmental laws, so long as they claim that those failures are in some way ’caused’ by the virus pandemic. And it allows them an out on monitoring too, so we may never know how bad the violating pollution was,” she said in statement to The Hill.
The EPA has been under pressure from a number of industries, including the oil industry, to suspend enforcement of a number of environmental regulations due to the pandemic.
“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,” EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerDemocrat calls on EPA to withdraw ‘secret science’ rule EPA to expedite reviews of products claiming to fight coronavirus Second EPA employee tests positive for coronavirus MORE said in a statement.
This story is developing.