NRDC et al. v. EPA (COVID-19 Nonenforcement Policy)

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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a policy allowing companies to stop monitoring and reporting their compliance with air and water pollution limits and to not disclose information about hazardous waste storage and risks at chemical plants if the company claims a pandemic-related constraint.

NRDC and a coalition of environmental groups petitioned the EPA to require any entity that stops monitoring and reporting for environmental pollution in response to the pandemic to provide written notice and justification to the EPA, which the agency would then make available to the public. The coalition includes Catskill Mountainkeeper, Center for Coalfield Justice, Clean Water Action, Coming Clean, Environmental Justice Health Alliance, Flint Rising, Indigenous Environmental Network, Just Transition Alliance, Los Jardines Institute, Public Citizen, Southeast Environmental Task Force, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, Water You Fighting For, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

This rule we requested is a simple, commonsense measure to provide vulnerable communities nationwide with timely and essential information about increased pollution risks. On April 16, 2020, we sued the EPA for ignoring our petition. Unfortunately, on July 8, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York declined to give the agency a deadline to address our petition.

Nonetheless, the court did not vindicate EPA’s nonenforcement policy and nine state attorneys general are challenging it in a separate case. We will continue to work with partners to fight the EPA’s unprecedented and dangerous policy. 

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