At a Wednesday, March 25, conference Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) division director Ed Galbraith said MDNR will take a flexible approach to enforcing environmental requirements during the COVID-19 outbreak. Galbraith also said that MDNR has discontinued environmental inspections for the time being and that he understands EPA Region 7 has done so, as well. MDNR is conducting certain field work, however.
Galbraith is director of MDNR’s Division of Environmental Quality and supervises the water, wastewater, hazardous waste, solid waste, air programs. The conference was sponsored by REGFORM.
MDNR has issued a March 24, 2020, letter describing its position, and they have established an email address to handle coronavirus inquiries and develop uniform responses, where practical: Regulatory.firstname.lastname@example.org. The authors encourage members of the regulated community to read the letter, which contains several important details.
Galbraith advised the regulated community to look ahead and identify early the potential for missing environmental deadlines. These deadlines will be found in permits, judicial consent decrees, administrative settlement agreements, regulations, and other documents. Galbraith urged those facing difficulty meeting deadlines to identify problems early and consult with MDNR. He advised the regulated community to check force majeure provisions of their governing documents and proceed accordingly. Force majeure notice are beginning to come in, he said. Galbraith expects timely reporting will be the most common topic for missed deadlines.
Like MDNR, the authors encourage the regulated community to be proactive in identifying upcoming deadlines during this COVID-19 situation, to anticipate potential compliance challenges, and to develop an early response.