DEEP Enforcement Discretion Statement During the COVID-19 Emergency:
On March 12, 2020, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont issued Executive Order (“EO”) Number 7 with declarations of public health and civil preparedness emergencies, and proclaiming a state of emergency throughout the State of Connecticut as a result of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. Numerous additional executive orders have been issued for the unprecedented circumstances associated with COVID-19, including EO No. 7H, issued on March 20, 2020, promoting the Governor’s message to residents: “Stay Safe, Stay Home.” The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) recognizes that COVID-19 has presented a variety of challenges to individuals and businesses, including potential impediments to achieving full regulatory compliance.
We recognize that we are living in extraordinarily difficult times and this is not business as usual. Still, our priorities remain the same: protection of public health and safety, and protection of our environment and natural resources. We recognize that the regulated community is facing conditions during this public health emergency which may make it difficult to achieve full regulatory compliance with environmental laws. Some of those conditions may include difficulties securing equipment, maintaining staffing levels and professional support, and conducting some monitoring activities. Many individuals and businesses are also facing serious economic hardship.
Regulated entities are expected to comply with Connecticut’s environmental laws during the public health emergency. Should, however, extenuating circumstances associated with the COVID-19 emergency prevent a regulated entity from fully complying with environmental laws, DEEP recommends that the regulated entity document in detail and communicate in writing with DEEP as soon as practicable concerning the entity’s inability to achieve full compliance. In the event that a regulated entity becomes aware that it did not or may not comply in a timely fashion with any requirement of Connecticut’s environmental laws, including a license (permit, approval, registration, etc.) issued by DEEP, the regulated entity shall document its compliance shortcoming(s), provide written notification to DEEP, and take all reasonable steps to achieve compliance without further delay. DEEP reserves the right to take action in response to non-compliance, taking into account the public health emergency and the particular facts and circumstances associated with a regulated entity’s ability to achieve compliance.
DEEP continues to monitor compliance and will prioritize our response to imminent or actual threats to human health and the environment. The regulated community is still required to notify DEEP immediately of imminent or actual threats to human health or the environment. DEEP will take whatever action is determined to be appropriate under the circumstances.
For the latest information and guidance by the State of Connecticut, please visit the https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus and ct.gov/deep COVID-19 Response webpages.
This statement is in effect so long as the Governor’s March 12, 2020 emergency declaration remains in effect. This statement is subject to change. Please see DEEP’s COVID-19 Response webpage at https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/COVID-19/DEEP-COVID-19-Response for the most up to date information.
The DEEP continues to use a broad range of regulatory, permitting, assistance and enforcement tools to maximize protection of public health and the environment, maintain a strong, credible enforcement presence and to minimize potential impacts that regulated activities can have on the environment. The enforcement and/or compliance tools the Department employs include inspections, data tracking and monitoring, compliance assistance, and administrative enforcement. This section provides an overview of the tools available to the DEEP and the policies associated with Department enforcement activities.