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Public Still Needs Details on EPA Enforcement Policy, Groups Say

July 1, 2020, 7:43 PM

The public deserves to know which companies have taken advantage of the EPA’s relaxed pandemic-era enforcement policy, even as the agency starts to wind down the approach, environmental lawyers told a federal court.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups made the argument Wednesday in a letter to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. They were responding to the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement that it would end the policy Aug. 31.

At issue is the agency’s decision to temporarily suspend penalties for companies that fall short of certain pollution monitoring and reporting requirements because of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • NRDC and other groups petitioned the EPA to disclose who has made use of the relaxed enforcement approach. They filed suit to force the agency to respond to their request.
  • The Aug. 31 end date “does nothing to ameliorate these present and ongoing risks,” NRDC and other challengers told the court Wednesday. “For at least two more months, the public and EPA will not know when and where facilities have stopped complying with their pollution monitoring and reporting obligations.”
  • The EPA has defended the policy as a commonsense accommodation during the pandemic. A coalition of states is also challenging the agency’s approach.

The case is Nat. Res. Def. Council v. Bodine, S.D.N.Y., No. 1:20-cv-03058, letter filed 7/1/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at egilmer@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergindustry.com; Anna Yukhananov at ayukhananov@bloombergindustry.com

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