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COVID-19 Era Environmental Compliance

On March 26, 2020, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) issued guidance on how it intends to handle environmental compliance obligations that may be impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic.  A link to our update on that guidance can be found here.  At that time, we expected that the Wisconsin DNR would take a similar approach and exercise its enforcement discretion to deal with situations where the regulated community may not be able to make routine submittals.

On Friday, April 3, 2020, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued some guidance of its own on environmental compliance obligations in light of COVID-19.  While not as detailed as the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) guidance, the DNR acknowledges that there will need to be a balance struck while both the regulators and the regulated community attempt to meet their respective obligations while this public health emergency exists.

DNR’s approach is straightforward: all obligations remain, but if there is difficulty in making a routine submittal or other modifications are needed, parties may communicate that fact to the appropriate staff person along with their intended plan to address the non-compliance.  DNR will make case-by-case determinations as to the acceptability of the alternative plans.  DNR will prioritize imminent threats to public health and the environment over routine compliance matters.

We see this as more of a general housekeeping matter as it relates to routine compliance reports. Any emergency situations, like spills or releases, should still be reported as soon as practical and immediate steps taken to minimize any harm as much as practical.  We will continue to evaluate how environmental compliance efforts may be impacted by COVID-19.

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About this Author

Ted Warpinski, Davis Kuelthau Law Firm, Green Bay, Environmental Litigation Law Attorney
Shareholder

With over 30 years of experience, Ted has worked on a wide variety of environmental and litigation cases across Wisconsin. From the early years of Superfund litigation on sites like the Fadrowski Drum Disposal Site in Franklin, Wisconsin and the Moss-American Site in Milwaukee, Ted has been immersed in both the legal and technical aspects of environmental law.

Ted’s litigation practice has grown to include environmental nuisance claims and toxic tort litigation, contract and property disputes, construction defects, insurance coverage litigation...

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M. Andrew Skwierawski Environmental & Commercial Attorney Davis Kuelthau Law Firm Milwaukee
Senior Attorney

With 12 years of legal experience, Andy combines his background as a veteran software developer and small business owner to his technical and scientific-focused law practice that includes environmental litigation, e-discovery, complex commercial disputes and municipal compliance.

Andy enjoys working with clients to understand their goals and find creative ways to achieve them.

His technology law practice includes crafting and responding to e-discovery requests as well as reviewing software licensing and service agreements. Andy’s environmental litigation work has included representing manufacturers, property owners, farmers and environmental organizations.

Andy spent 10 years working as a software developer and independent consultant at various Milwaukee corporations. He has developed expertise in software, hardware and firmware for the access control and security industries, in addition to having written numerous business applications. He is fluent in C, C++, SQL, SQL Server, .NET, C#, VB.net and a whole host of other three letter acronyms.

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