The EPA published a policy that made it discretionary for all regulated companies including oil and gas extraction, coal-fired power plants, refineries, and other facilities to comply with environmental rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. It allows them to monitor themselves without fines for violations of certain air, water and hazardous waste pollution requirements. Also, they are not required to report any non-compliance to the public or to the agency unless asked. The EPA has stated that they expect facilities will comply where practicable and return to compliance quickly once the pandemic has passed.
However, the Natural Resources Defense Council and 14 other environmental justice, public health and public interest organizations filed suit against the agency in federal district court over the changes. They state that EPA’s policy is especially dangerous given that research shows a statistically significant increase in COVID-19 death rate for people subject to higher levels of air pollution. Also, fourteen state attorneys general, including Wisconsin’s, wrote to the EPA administrator, on April 15, strongly urging that the policy be rescinded in order to protect public health and the environment. UtilityDive, attorneys general letter