June 30, 2020

Committee Leaders on EPA’s Relaxed Enforcement Policy Coming to an End Soon

Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and Environment Chairwoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) released the following statement today in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) letter announcing that its relaxation of enforcement policy will end on August 31, 2020. EPA’s letter comes after the Committee leaders sent Administrator Andrew Wheeler multiple inquiries demanding clarification for and changes to the policy:

“EPA’s COVID-19 enforcement policy gave license to companies to violate our environmental laws and needlessly weakened public health protections at a time when they were needed most.  This policy had no business being put into effect, but fortunately it will be coming to an end soon.  We demanded a firm end date because we had feared that the Administration would not commit to one otherwise, and might attempt to keep this policy in place indefinitely.   

“While we’re glad the Trump EPA finally responded to our repeated demands to end this reckless policy, the Agency either doesn’t know or will not reveal its impacts to either Congress or the American people.  We will continue to conduct oversight until EPA answers for this and all of its failed policies. 

“Make no mistake: we will never tolerate the COVID-19 crisis being used as cover to weaken environmental and human health protections.  If anything, the current national emergency demands stronger protections and heightened public health efforts across government — not weaker ones.”

The Committee leaders sent their first letter to EPA on April 21, and a follow-up letter on June 10. A PDF of EPA’s letter in response is available here.