As businesses across the country begin to re-open, many will be hypervigilant about the safety of indoor spaces. While stay-at-home orders may be lifting, business owners and their employees may have significant trepidation about the risks of returning to their workspaces and public venues. Building owners and property management companies will be called upon to address concerns about the safety of their tenant spaces and public areas, and the adequacy of measures taken to ensure the protection of building occupants. However, while building owners and property managers must necessarily focus on addressing the concerns arising directly from potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus, they should not ignore other potentially significant concerns associated with reopening their properties. One such concern is the stagnant conditions that may develop in a building’s water system during periods of extended disuse, which can lead to an enhanced risk for the spread of the Legionella bacteria that can cause Legionnaire’s disease, creating potential health risks for tenant, worker, and other user populations.
Continue Reading After the Stay-At-Home Order: Water Management Best Practices for Re-Opening Buildings

Authors
Mitchell Guc, Associate, Pepper Hamilton
Todd Fracassi, Partner, Pepper Hamilton
Randy Brogdon, Partner, Troutman Sanders

On May 13, nine state attorneys general filed a complaint against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) challenging EPA’s COVID-19 enforcement discretion policy, which we discussed in previous articles here and here. The plaintiff states

On May 5, 2020, the Illinois Attorney General filed a complaint against a developer and its contractors responsible for demolishing the smokestack of a former coal-fired power plant in Chicago. The suit provides a good reminder that careful planning for the control of fugitive dust emissions is critical during decommissioning activities—and that state legal offices

On April 22, 2020, EPA published an interim final rule providing relief to sources that are subject to the quality assurance testing and reporting under 40 CFR Part 75. The initial summary of the rule indicates the policy applies to sources that monitor and report emissions under the Acid Rain Program, the Cross-State Air Pollution

Todd Fracassi, Pepper Hamilton
Mitchell Guc, Pepper Hamilton
Randy Brogdon, Troutman Sanders
Patrick Fanning, Troutman Sanders

In the three weeks since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its much-discussed coronavirus (COVID-19) enforcement discretion policy (Policy), governmental and environmental group opposition to the Policy has continued to intensify. This article outlines both the nature of the opposition as it currently stands, as well as some best practices for those businesses struggling to keep up with the environmental enforcement tug-of-war unfolding before their eyes.


Continue Reading State and Environmental Group Opposition to EPA’s COVID-19 Enforcement Discretion Policy Intensifies

Authors

Todd Fracassi, Pepper Hamilton
Mitchell Guc, Pepper Hamilton
Randy Brogdon, Troutman Sanders
Patrick Fanning, Troutman Sanders

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is quietly taking steps to provide financial relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an April 14 model letter, DOJ offered to temporarily suspend its collection of stipulated penalty payments owed under some consent decrees through at least May 31, 2020. Notably, the letter also stated that DOJ will advise as to whether the suspension will be extended beyond May 31, 2020 and that if a party simply does nothing in response to the notice, DOJ will not seek collection of the debt until after May 2020. The letter is signed by Joseph Davis, Chief of the Case Management Unit of DOJ’s Environment & Natural Resources Division (ENRD) Environmental Enforcement Section.


Continue Reading Department of Justice Offers Reprieve from Stipulated Penalty Payments Through at Least May 31, 2020, in Response to COVID-19

Authors
Todd C. Fracassi, Partner, Pepper Hamilton
Mitchell L. Guc, Associate, Pepper Hamilton
Andrea L. Rimer, Partner, Troutman Sanders
Randy E. Brogdon, Partner, Troutman Sanders

On April 10, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM) and Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) jointly released a memorandum to all EPA Regional Administrators regarding the suspension, reduction or continuation of on-site cleanup activity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The memorandum supplements earlier guidance released on March 19 outlining OLEM’s management considerations and posture in response to COVID-19, which is included as an attachment to the April 10 guidance.


Continue Reading EPA Issues Guidance for On-Site Cleanup Activity Suspension, Reduction or Continuation in Response to COVID-19

In response to guidance issued by EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance regarding enforcement discretion in light of COVID-19, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued its own guidance. In its accompanying press release, DEQ takes a stern tone and makes clear that DEQ expects compliance with all environmental compliance obligations and permit limits, that the crisis does not “equal a free pass for the regulated community,” and that regulated entities should make every effort to comply.

Continue Reading Virginia Issues Enforcement and Compliance Guidance in Response to EPA Enforcement Discretion Guidance

Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) Susan Bodine issued guidance regarding OECA enforcement discretion in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) COVID-19 pandemic. EPA intends to focus its resources largely on situations that may create an acute risk or imminent threat to public health or the environment. The guidance, which is retroactively effective to March 13, does not have an end date but EPA commits to reviewing the policy regularly and to providing a seven day notice of its termination on OECA’s guidance page.

Continue Reading EPA Issues Enforcement Discretion Guidance to Address Compliance in Wake of COVID-19

In light of the coronavirus disease (“COVID-19”), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued guidance directing that all Federal Executive Branch departments and agencies within the National Capital Region (Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.) allow maximum telework flexibilities to all current telework eligible employees. This guidance applies to the headquarters of the agencies most involved in regulating hydroelectric projects, such as the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of the Interior (DOI), including the National Park Service (NPS), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), including the Forest Service (FS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), including the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an independent agency within DOE, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), housed within the Department of the Army, have also taken significant steps to respond to COVID-19.

Continue Reading Federal Agency COVID-19 Updates Impacting the Hydropower Industry