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Virginia DEQ “Will Consider Non-Compliance Issues Resulting from COVID-19 on a Case-by-Case Basis”

Wild Virginia: "These requirements are just as vital to public health and safety as are the requirements imposed to protect us from Coronavirus infection."

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Wild Virginia Conservation Director David Sligh just commented, as follows, regarding today’s Virginia Department of Environmental Quality statement (see below) that “DEQ staff will consider non-compliance issues resulting from COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis, but by no means does this crisis equal a free pass for the regulated community.” This differs greatly from the Trump administration, which – as Wild Virginia says – “has given a broad, general permission to polluters to bypass requirements” and which has “set a low and ill-defined threshold for polluters.” Which, of course, is appalling, disgraceful, etc…the usual, sad to say, from the horrendously anti-environment, pro-polluter Trump administration.

“I welcome DEQ Director David Paylor’s statement that all regulated parties are still expected to comply with all environmental requirements during the pandemic and that exceptions can only be excused on a case-by-case basis. We must always remember that many of these requirements are just as vital to public health and safety as are the requirements imposed to protect us from Coronavirus infection.
The DEQ always has a degree of discretion in how it addresses compliance failures, just as the U.S. EPA does. It is reasonable to consider unusual circumstances as they arise, when meeting permitting or other requirements is impossible or presents a great risk. However, those instances should be rare and limited as much as possible in time and extent. And the polluters must be held accountable for fully documenting and reporting any such instances and taking actions to lessen any harm, even when full compliance is not possible.
DEQ’s approach differs from that taken by the EPA, in that the Trump administration has given a broad, general permission to polluters to bypass requirements. The federal officials set a low and ill-defined threshold for polluters – that they may evade responsibilities when it is “not reasonably practicable” to do so. Unfortunately, we cannot trust the current EPA leaders’ judgments about what is reasonable or practicable, because they have a deplorable record of placing economic and political interests above those of the environment and the public at large.”