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9 states sue EPA for ‘blanket waiver’ as nation fights pandemic

Nine states have sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for curtailing enforcement of rules on air and water pollution during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the pullback puts the public at even greater risk.

The states accuse the federal regulator of overstepping its authority when it created a “blanket waiver” in March that they say “gives regulated parties free rein to self-determine when compliance with federal environmental laws is not practical because of COVID-19.”

That could tempt companies to stop reporting chemical spills or refrain from tracking emissions of hazardous air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide or benzene, the states say in their complaint.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York City last week, asks the court to vacate the policy. It was filed by the nine Democratic state attorneys general from New York, California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont and Virginia.

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Defendants include the EPA, Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Administrator Susan Parker Bodine.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said Monday that the policy “puts Minnesota’s most vulnerable communities even more at risk and denies them information about potential pollution that we know exacerbates symptoms of COVID-19.

“The EPA announced its temporary enforcement discretion policy March 26, three […]

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