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DOJ Halts Collection of Civil Penalties, Citing Coronavirus


The U.S. Department of Justice has quietly frozen its collection of civil penalty payments until at least May 31 in an effort to blunt the coronavirus pandemic's economic impact.


The EPA’s policy generally divides compliance obligations into tiers and treats potential violations differently. Significant leeway will be given to businesses that show they can't meet routine compliance monitoring and reporting requirements, while those at risk of allowing discharges or emissions that could damage human health and the environment will be scrutinized more closely. Once the coronavirus crisis has passed, the EPA said, the policy will be rescinded.


Margaret Anne Hill, a partner at Blank Rome, said the EPA’s and the DOJ’s moves are important to assist regulated entities during this time.

“While DOJ’s civil debt collection has a limited six-week timeframe, the agency acknowledges, as does EPA, that its temporary exercise of enforcement discretion may be subject to an extension,” Hill said. “These agency actions are a ‘first’ in the enforcement arena, and show that the federal government recognizes that easing the regulatory burdens on business is one way of trying to get the economy back on track.”

“DOJ Halts Collection Of Civil Penalties, Citing Coronavirus,” by Juan Carlos Rodriguez, was published in Law360 on April 15, 2020.