MPCA Issues Guidance to Regulated Entities During COVID-19 Outbreak

Legal Alert

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused many regulated entities to adjust their operations and left some wondering how they will comply with regulatory obligations when employees are working remotely, contractors may be unable to undertake field work, and government offices are closed.  The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has now provided some guidance as to how regulated entities can satisfy their obligations during this time.

While MPCA notes that permittees and operators are expected to meet all terms and conditions of their permits, MPCA is aware that unavoidable noncompliance situations may occur as a result of COVID-19.  If a regulated entity finds itself in such a situation, MPCA will now accept requests for regulatory flexibility.  The alternative approaches MPCA will consider include extending deadlines and extending operator certifications.

To submit a request for regulatory flexibility, regulated entities should email  MPCA provided the following guidelines with respect to the email requesting regulatory flexibility:

  1. Requests should come from an individual party (company/county/individual) and identify the party requesting the flexibility by name and applicable permit number;
  2. Requests should include a phone number(s) of the individual to contact regarding the Request;
  3. Request should state what specific statute/rule/permit condition the individual party is looking for flexibility from;
  4. Request should include the reasoning/rationale for the request (1 paragraph summary on why the peacetime emergency makes the flexibility sought necessary and what actions the requester took prior to the request to meet the requirement);
  5. Request should include bulleted points of what measures will be taken to mitigate/minimize the potential environmental impacts (if any); and
  6. Request should specify the specific time period that the request is for including the rationale.

If a request for regulatory flexibility is authorized by MPCA, the regulated entity must maintain records adequate to document its implementation of the authorized alternative measure.  The regulated entity must also keep records of its noncompliance.

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