Nine states on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for relaxing a range of companies’ compliance and monitoring requirements with federal clean air and water laws in response to the coronavirus pandemic, arguing the policy is too broad and not transparent.
What We Know:
- The coalition of nine states include: New York, California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont, and Virginia.
- Under the temporary policy announced on March 26, the EPA said it will not seek penalties for violations of routine compliance and monitoring, integrity testing, sampling, laboratory analysis, training, and reporting or certification obligations in situations where the EPA agrees that COVID-19 was the cause.
“The policy’s effective waiver of these requirements, which are foundational to our federal environmental laws, exceeds EPA’s authority.” – New York Attorney General; Letitia James
- Their lawsuit comes a month after more than a dozen environmental groups led by the Natural Resources Defense Council, whose president is former Obama EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy filed their own challenge in the same New York Federal Court.
- “In the past, EPA has only eased compliance obligations in a targeted way to address specific problems, such as Superstorm Sandy,” said former Obama EPA enforcement chief Cynthia Giles.
- The EPA would not comment on the litigation but said the environmental agencies in each of the states that filed the lawsuit have also adopted enforcement discretion policies related to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The legal action requests the court wipe out the policy and ban the EPA from attempting to reintroduce it.