Many business operations affected heavily by environmental regulations are considered “essential” and are up and running to ensure our country has the products and services it needs to respond to the COVID-19 emergency. We are hearing that these businesses are straining under the pressure to maintain social distancing requirements, quarantine individuals exposed to the virus, sustain operations with reduced personnel, protect their personnel, and preserve their supply chain resources. Although all companies understand the need to protect human health and the environment, it may be impossible to meet every deadline, take every reading, and make every inspection during this emergency.
Recognizing this reality, many Federal and state agencies are issuing enforcement relief and response policies providing guidance on how to respond if environmental or other regulatory requirements can’t be met. Husch Blackwell has gathered Federal and state COVID-19 enforcement relief and response policies for environmental and motor carrier safety regulations. A complete list of these policies is posted as a resource on our website.
Each policy specifies that all regulations remain in place. All agencies expect compliance. In the individual event that circumstances particular to the COVID-19 emergency cause, or will cause, noncompliance with a particular regulation, different agencies and states have implemented varying procedures for handling enforcement discretion. If a business cannot meet a particular regulation, it needs to carefully review the relevant agency’s policy. Many states require that they be contacted in advance to discuss the situation and some states even provide a specified form for the consultation. Other Federal agencies and states require keeping precise records of the circumstances leading to noncompliance.
Husch Blackwell’s Environmental group has answered many questions on how to comply with agency regulations during the COVID-19 emergency. If you have any questions, please reach out to Amy Wachs or Jason Flower and we can help.