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Planning for Environmental Regulatory Issues Amid COVID-19 Disruptions

March 23, 2020

As the COVID-19 situation unfolds, travel restrictions, shelter-in-place directives, and other limitations can create unforeseen challenges to meeting certain environmental obligations.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the various state agencies, and different regulatory programs, offer a patchwork of provisions for temporary variances and deadline extensions in emergency situations.

Certainly, systems that prevent environmental problems are vitally important. However, what is a company to do if it can’t get qualified personnel (sometimes requiring contractors to travel from another state) to a production site to run a periodic test? What is to be done if a company’s business operations are suspended? What is to be done if personnel working from home can’t access all the data required to submit a routine quarterly report? These questions can be particularly difficult to resolve if the regulatory agency’s offices are closed or the regular contact person cannot be reached. 

Honigman’s Environmental Practice Group can help your environmental management team coordinate with consultants and regulators to map out a strategy for allocating personnel and resources to meet environmental obligations in the most efficient manner, considering these extraordinary circumstances. If a waiver or extension is required, we can identify any applicable statutory or regulatory provisions that may provide relief. We can also help you review your permits, consent orders and consent decrees to determine what options may be available.  Finally, we can assist you in communicating and documenting your efforts to the appropriate agencies to minimize your legal risk. 

Please contact one of Honigman’s Environmental practice group attorneys for assistance on any of these issues. See Honigman’s COVID-19 webpage to keep updated on a broad range of COVID-19 issues impacting businesses.