EGLE Establishes Process for Handling Enforcement Discretion Due to COVID-19

EGLE recognizes that Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s actions to sustain and protect life by reducing the spread of COVID-19, including her state of emergency declaration and Stay Home, Stay Safe order, may require some regulated entities to deviate from normal business operations.

During the COVID-19 response, regulated entities are expected to maintain compliance with environmental regulations and permit requirements to protect Michigan’s environment and public health. EGLE understands that disruptions to standard operations may create challenges for regulated entities to meet some legal obligations.

To address these challenges, EGLE has established an email box (EGLE-EnforcementDiscretion@Michigan.gov) to accept requests for regulatory flexibility from entities who face unavoidable noncompliance directly due to the COVID-19 emergency. In response to those requests, EGLE may consider extending reporting deadlines, waiving late fees, and otherwise exercising enforcement discretion.

Requests must include:

  • The specific regulatory requirement in question, including identification of any permit, order, or agreement that applies to the entity’s obligations;
  • A concise statement describing the circumstances preventing compliance and how the compliance issue is impacted by the COVID-19 response;
  • The steps taken to avoid the compliance issue, including whether you contacted EGLE for assistance and why the compliance issue was not reasonably avoidable;
  • The anticipated duration of the compliance issue and whether it may create an acute risk or imminent threat to human health or the environment (but emergency situations should be reported to the PEAS Hotline at 800-292-4706);
  • Mitigative measures planned to protect Michigan’s environment and public health during the period in which the requirement cannot be met; and
  • A central point of contact for the regulated entity, including an email address and phone number.

Requests made to EGLE-EnforcementDiscretion@Michigan.gov will be monitored continuously during regular business hours. EGLE will work diligently to review and respond to requests in a timely manner.

Where alternative compliance options are authorized by EGLE, regulated entities must maintain records adequate to document activities related to the noncompliance and details of the regulated entity’s best efforts to comply.

A request to the enforcement discretion inbox that clearly identifies an applicable permit, order, or other agreement with compliance obligations will meet the notice or reporting requirements for noncompliance in those governing documents provided the request meets any timing and substantive requirements of the relevant governing document.  

In addition, if a submission to EGLE requires a signature of a responsible official, EGLE will accept a digital or other electronic signature through June 30, 2020, in accordance with recent executive orders (EO2020-74). An e-signature could take several forms. One, the submitter could sign, scan, email or fax the document into the Department. Another manner would be: the submitter should include a statement in their submission (e.g. email) indicating that they agree to use electronic signatures for the transaction. (e.g. “I agree to the use of electronic signatures with EGLE.”) Then, enter “/s/ John Doe" (signor’s name) in the signature line.

As has always been the case and regardless of the method of submittal, requests for regulatory flexibility are subject to state Freedom of Information Act provisions. These records can be made available by emailing EGLE-FOIA@Michigan.gov.


Summary

A summary of all the requests EGLE has received for regulatory flexibility during the COVID-19 emergency and the agency’s responses are available for public review in a regulatory flexibility spreadsheet. This spreadsheet will be updated regularly.


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