CalEPA Issues Statement on Enforcement and Compliance Requirements During COVID-19 Pandemic

Environmental Law  

April 16, 2020

Downey Brand COVID-19 News and Updates

Yesterday, the California Environmental Protection Agency (“CalEPA”) issued a statement regarding enforcement and compliance requirements during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which is particularly relevant and timely for the regulated community. CalEPA is a state cabinet-level agency consisting of other agencies including the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”), the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (“CalRecycle”), the Department of Pesticide Regulation (“DPR”), the Department of Toxic Substances Control (“DTSC”), the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (“OEHHA”), and the State Water Resources Control Board (“SWRCB”). The key take-aways from CalEPA’s statement are:

  • Regulated entities that cannot meet specific requirements due to the ongoing pandemic must contact the appropriate CalEPA board, department or office as early as possible and before the entity falls out of compliance to seek specific time-delimited remedies such as an extension to a compliance deadline, which may be warranted under “clearly articulated circumstances.” CalEPA encourages entities to make such requests via e-mail.
  • CalEPA boards, departments and offices will consider such compliance deadline requests in an expedited fashion. Contact information for the appropriate CalEPA board, department or office can be found here.
  • CalEPA intends to continue responding to and investigating complaints related to environmental non-compliance during the pandemic, and will take action where necessary. Moreover, CalEPA intends to fill any enforcement gaps left open by the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (“USEPA”) reduction in oversight, and to prioritize the ongoing clean-up of contaminated sites to abate or prevent imminent threats to public health or the environment.
  • Finally, CalEPA will issue additional guidance regarding the COVID-19 pandemic as CalEPA deems necessary.

As a result, companies whose operations fall under the authority of any of CalEPA’s departments should make every effort to remain compliant or face potential enforcement. And, where a company foresees that compliance will not be possible due to the pandemic, it should contact the relevant department as soon as possible, and before it falls out of compliance.