EPA Headquarters, Washington DC
House Committee Requests EPA Briefing on Pandemic Enforcement Policy
April 27, 2020
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has requested the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brief them by May 1, 2020 on topics surrounding the agency's pandemic enforcement discretion policy that was announced March 26, 2020. In a letter to EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler on April 22, 2020, the committee requested a briefing on EPA's decision-making process, predicted impact, and anticipated end date of the temporary policy.
The committee's letter challenges EPA's description of the policy and raises the question of industry influence on the policy. Rather than calling it "enforcement discretion" the committee letter calls it a "moratorium" and accuses EPA of suspending enforcement in response to lobbying by the oil and gas industry.
EPA previously attempted to clarify the policy in a letter to members of Congress after criticism from environmetalists that the policy is a license to polute. Wheeler responded, “EPA’s enforcement authority and responsibility remains active. This is not a nationwide waiver of environmental rules. We will continue to work with federal, state and tribal partners to ensure that facilities are meeting regulatory requirements, while taking appropriate steps to protect the health of our staff and the public.”