The U.S. 环境因素 Protection Agency announced last Thursday retroactively beginning March 13, 2020, a temporary policy regarding 环保局 enforcement of environmental legal obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

环保局’s admittedly unprecedented temporary “enforcement discretion policy” applies to civil violations during the COVID-19 outbreak as a response to the deleterious effect 上 a wide variety of businesses. 环保局 has in the past announced how it intends to exercise enforcement discretion (e.g., the 1974 mobile source tampering policy) but it has maybe never before done so, so broadly and widely across all businesses as in this instance to be reasonably commensurate with the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic.

该政策针对不合规的不同类别有不同的处理方式。例如,根据该政策,EPA不会期望因COVID-19大流行而导致的不遵守例行监测和报告义务的行为而受到处罚(例如,即使由州令关闭的管理得当的非必要企业也可能无法收集监测样本等),但另一方面,它确实明确希望公共供水系统的运营商在继续确保饮用水供应安全方面负有更大的责任。

尽管激进主义者夸大了这项政策的特色,从彻底废除环境法到颁发污染许可证到一切,“EPA致力于保护人类健康和环境,但是认识到保护工人和公众免受COVID-19危害的努力可能会直接影响受监管设施满足所有联邦监管要求的能力,”环保局局长安德鲁·惠勒说。“此临时政策旨在在当前特殊条件下提供执行自由裁量权,同时确保设施运营继续保护人类健康和环境。”

最重要的是,“本临时政策中规定的所有强制执行裁量权以……为条件。实体应尽一切努力遵守其环境合规义务。如果不能合理地遵守法规,则应在这种情况下负责任地履行环境法规义务的设施,以最大程度地减少由COVID-19引起的任何违规行为的影响和持续时间。”

当我们在2020年第一季度的最后几天进行自我隔离时,当食品交付“停止”而酒精饮料交付“进入”时,该政策详细说明了受监管的设施现在必须采取的步骤才能有执行自由裁量权的资格。

The temporary policy makes it clear that 环保局 expects regulated facilities to comply with regulatory requirements, where reasonably practicable, and to return to compliance as quickly as possible. To be eligible for enforcement discretion, the policy also requires facilities to document decisions made to prevent or mitigate noncompliance and demonstrate how the noncompliance was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

请放心,这不是一张“摆脱监狱”的卡。这项政策无法宽恕故意故意违反法律的行为。

The policy does not apply to activities that are carried out under Superfund and RCRA Corrective Action enforcement instruments. 环保局 will address these matters in separate communications.

此外,“根据联邦法律的要求,此临时政策中的任何内容均免除任何实体的责任,以防止,响应或报告石油,有害物质,危险化学品,危险废物和其他污染物的意外释放,或应该被理解为在释放后愿意行使执法自由裁量权。”

The 环保局’s policy will have a limited impact in states that have delegated 环保局 enforcement jurisdiction. That includes Maryland, where Secretary of the Maryland Department Environment Ben Grumbles made clear that the state wouldn’t be following 环保局’s lead. “We understand we may need to exercise discretion in enforcement of environmental regulations 上 a limited, case-by-case basis during a disaster, but Maryland is not issuing a broad upfront policy as 环保局 is doing,” Grumbles said in a statement.

While you are at home take a few minutes to read the 环保局 COVID-19 政策 and be aware 环保局 will post a notification 这里 在终止本临时政策之前至少7天。

如果我们可以帮助您了解如何实施此特别的自由裁量权政策或其他与环境有关的事项,我们随时可以为您提供帮助。