EPA Issues Enforcement Discretion Policy to Address COVID-19

EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler on Capitol Hill August 1, 2018

SOURCE: J. Scott Applewhite, AP

EPA Issues Enforcement Discretion Policy to Address COVID-19

March 27, 2020

On Thursday, March 26, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a temporary policy regarding EPA enforcement for civil violations that may occur during the COVID-19 outbreak. Under the policy EPA does not expect to seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting obligations that are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic but does expect operators of public water systems to continue to ensure the safety of our drinking water supplies. The policy also describes the steps that regulated facilities should take to qualify for enforcement discretion.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said, "This temporary policy is designed to provide enforcement discretion under the current, extraordinary conditions, while ensuring facility operations continue to protect human health and the environment."

Under this temporary enforcement discretion policy, EPA 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, facilities must document decisions made to prevent or mitigate noncompliance and demonstrate how the noncompliance was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

EPA's policy will apply retroactively beginning on March 13, 2020. EPA will assess the continued need for and scope of this temporary policy on a regular basis and will update it if EPA determines modifications are necessary.

In order to provide fair and sufficient notice to the public, EPA will post a notification here at least 7 days prior to terminating this temporary policy.

To read the EPA Policy on Enforcement during the COVID-19 outbreak: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/enforcement-policy-guidance-publications



EPA News Release 
EPA Announces Enforcement Discretion Policy for COVID-19 Pandemic | EPA News Release | March 26, 2020

EPA Policy Memorandum
MEMORANDUM From Susan Parker Bodine, Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance | March 26, 2020

EPA Enforcement Policy, Guidance, and Publications Website 
EPA will post notification here at least 7 days prior to terminating temporary enforcement discretion policy.