Erik Baptist Discusses EPA’s TSCA Enforcement Policy During Coronavirus Pandemic
Erik C. Baptist, partner in Wiley’s Environment & Product Regulation Practice, was quoted in an April 1 Chemical Watch article about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) temporary policy to exercise limited enforcement discretion amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The policy, announced by the EPA in a recent memorandum, allows the agency to prioritize its resources by easing enforcement against “routine” reporting requirements disrupted during the pandemic, according to the article.
The EPA expects U.S. chemical facilities to comply with their regulatory requirements where reasonably practicable, and return to compliance as quickly as possible after the outbreak has subsided, Chemical Watch reported.
Mr. Baptist told Chemical Watch that most obligations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) will very likely remain for chemical manufacturers and others subject to the statute.
The EPA memo is focused on “routine reporting,” Mr Baptist said. “That’s important to keep in mind.”
Mr. Baptist said companies need to focus on any obligations pursuant to consent orders. Such orders may require the use of certain personal protective equipment or require additional testing of a substance, according to the article. State enforcement is not governed by the EPA’s temporary enforcement policy, Chemical Watch reported.
For federal obligations such as TSCA, “it’s still within the EPA’s discretion whether they will enforce, even if COVID-19 may have been a factor,” Mr. Baptist said. “So don’t hang your hat” on the temporary policy “unless absolutely necessary,” he added.
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