On March 17, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued new guidance to federal agencies to evaluate their operations to slow the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.
It requires all agencies to review, modify, and begin implementing risk-based policies and procedures based on CDC guidance and legal advice, as necessary, to safeguard the health and safety of federal workplaces in order to restrict the transmission of COVID-19. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) senior leadership is currently evaluating operations of the agency to be in line with this guidance, and will provide additional guidance to employees as soon as possible.
The plans for guidance include the following:
- How the EPA is adjusting plans with respect to rulemakings and upcoming deadlines
- Agency-wide plans to address compliance issues that result from the pandemic. Examples include: not allowing third-party contractors on site to do necessary compliance testing; contractors imposing travel bans on its employees that provide compliance support; companies not allowing corporate staff to travel to facilities to determine what compliance obligations are required; and if there is a shutdown, what deadlines for reporting will be missed.
- Compliance with existing reporting, monitoring, and testing requirements.
- Potential regulatory “pauses” that may be issued by the EPA given pandemic response priorities.
- Anything EPA can do to help keep food moving. For example, Department of Transportation (DOT) recently provided relief in the form of temporary relaxation of the Hours of Service mandate, so that truckers can drive for longer hours in order to get food to stores.
- Flexibility complying with testing and reporting requirements across all environmental media. Many companies are not able to bring in outside contractors needed to conduct periodic testing, such as Relative Accuracy Test Audits (RATA) and stack tests. With many employees working from home and places that may go into lockdown, it will become increasingly difficult to comply with annual reporting requirements, including greenhouse gas and Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting.
- EPA's guidance to inspectors regarding visits to industrial facilities during these times of crisis. What the Agency will, or will not, be doing during the next eight weeks with regard to visiting facilities for inspections and enforcing regulatory inspection schedules.
Please contact your local Trinity office at +1 (972) 661-8100 for more information.