COVID-19 Response Includes Regulatory Flexibility Requests

MPCA Regulations – With the onset of the coronavirus (COVID 19) and the Governor’s declaration of a state of peacetime emergency in Minnesota, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is aware that regulated entities may be impacted from a reduced workforce necessary to maintain normal operations at some facilities. All regulated entities remain obligated to take all available actions necessary to ensure compliance with environmental laws, regulations and permit requirements to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Minnesota and the environment.

However, in the instance where regulated entities will have an unavoidable noncompliance situation, directly due to impact from the coronavirus, the MPCA has established an email box to accept requests for the Commissioner of the MPCA to consider providing regulatory flexibility, where possible, to assist entities in alternative approaches to maintaining compliance, such as extending reporting deadlines, extensions of operator certifications, and other forms of regulatory flexibility.

Regulated entities should email with specific information related to a request for regulatory flexibility. This email box will be monitored daily and the MPCA will work diligently to expeditiously review and respond to incoming requests from regulated entities. MPCA approval is required prior to implementing alternative measures. The email should at a minimum include the following:

  • Requests should come from an individual party (company/county/individual) and identify the party requesting the flexibility by name and applicable permit number;
  • Requests should include a phone number(s) of the individual to contact regarding the request;
  • Request should state what specific statute/rule/permit condition the individual party is looking for flexibility on;
  • Request should include the reasoning/rationale for the request (1 paragraph summary on why the peacetime emergency makes the flexibility sought necessary and what actions the requestor took prior to the request to meet the requirement);,
  • Request should include bulleted points of what measures will be taken to mitigate/minimize the potential environmental impacts (if any); and
  • Request should specify the specific time period that the request is for including the rationale.

Where alternative compliance options are authorized by the MPCA, regulated entities must maintain records adequate to document implementation of authorized alternative compliance options, and activities related to the noncompliance.

The MPCA will work as quickly as possible with an individual party on a solution in response to the request. Requests can be amended by sending another e-mail if something has been approved for a specific time period and that time period needs to be extended or if a change to approved compliance options is needed. Again, the reason for the extension should be included. If the MPCA receives multiple requests for regulatory flexibility on a specific requirement and the MPCA determines it is appropriate across a specific sector, the MPCA may grant the specific sector flexibility for that requirement.

Any questions regarding this guidance should be submitted to the email box for a response.