In light of the rapidly evolving coronavirus challenge, AF&PA compiled information and resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including on issues such as workplace safety, scientific studies, economic relief programs, general information, environmental compliance flexibility, shelter-in-place orders and critical business exemptions. Much of the information has been compiled from third-party sources, and none of the information is, nor should it in any way be construed as, legal, health or any other form of advice, nor can we attest to the reliability, accuracy or completeness of the information. We hope this is helpful as a basic general information resource. This website is subject to change as new information comes to our attention.
Information and guidance from federal agencies on essential workforce, work AF&PA has done to ensure critical supply chains can continue and legislation enacted regarding COVID-19:
- AF&PA’s letter to Vice President Pence urging inclusion of pulp and paper mills, converting plants, and other businesses involved in the raw material, distribution and sale of our products, as essential businesses
- Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Guidance
- U.S. Customs and Border Control Protection
- U.S. EPA Enforcement Policy for COVID-19 Pandemic:
On March 26, U.S. EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) issued a temporary enforcement policy to address noncompliance with environmental requirements where the COVID-19 pandemic was the cause of the noncompliance. This guidance addresses concerns such as potential worker and consultant shortages, travel and social distancing restrictions and disruptions, and lack of available testing facilities due to the pandemic that could jeopardize meeting routine compliance monitoring and reporting obligations. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-03/documents/oecamemooncovid19implications.pdf
The kind of routine compliance monitoring and reporting requirements covered include routine compliance monitoring, integrity testing, sampling, laboratory analysis, training, and reporting or certification. For these routine requirements, EPA states that it does not expect to seek penalties in situations where “COVID-19 was the cause of noncompliance and the entity provides the supporting documentation to the EPA.” However, EPA states that it does expect facilities to maintain environmental control systems and meet applicable permit limits and other requirements.
The policy states that if compliance is “not reasonably practicable,” facilities should still minimize the effects and duration of noncompliance, and identify the nature and dates of noncompliance, how COVID-19 was the cause of the noncompliance, steps taken to return to compliance, and provide onsite documentation for inspection by regulatory authorities.
Since states run most of the environmental programs, the policy acknowledges they may take a different approach. Thus, while States running delegated environmental programs can follow the U.S. EPA approach, the State should make clear what its policy is. The U.S. EPA guidance is retroactive to March 13, applies to actions or omissions that occur while the policy is in effect even after it terminates, and will remain in effect until U.S. EPA withdraws it, giving at least seven days’ notice.
On March 30, U.S. EPA issued a press release. The release emphasized that the relief is temporary, the Agency expects parties to remain in compliance, and that any relief will be provided on a case-by-case basis and that companies must document the noncompliance was caused by the virus: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/enforcement-policy-guidance-publications