Due to its suddenness and severity, overnight the COVID-19 outbreak has rearranged the priorities of corporate legal departments. Things that were of top-of-list importance yesterday have likely been replaced by action items that were inconceivable just a few weeks ago. Additionally, the “all-hands-on-deck” approach to managing the crisis is likely to last for some time and perhaps longer than any of us could have imagined. There are going to be many legal issues of great strategic importance that simply won’t receive the attention they require; likewise, there will be day-to-day issues that could also be overlooked. Environmental monitoring and reporting requirements could be among those.
With social distancing measures and travel restrictions—including for environmental consultants—difficult decisions will likely arise regarding balancing COVID-19 measures against the risks of potential environmental non-compliance if companies cannot meet periodic training, monitoring and reporting requirements. In addition, federal, state and local environmental agencies may take different approaches to addressing extension requests or delays under different circumstances.
With Environment, Health & Safety legal and technical staff now mostly focused on employee safety issues, Husch Blackwell’s Environmental group is here and ready to help navigate these challenges, including planning for contingencies, preparing extension/waiver requests, and reviewing and preparing notices under force majeure clauses in orders and agreements. If you have questions or concerns about environmental compliance in the context of COVID-19, please contact Jason Flower or your Husch Blackwell attorney.