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EPA Relaxes Enforcement of Environmental Laws - NCDEQ Says State Rules Still Apply

river_by_nick_aerial.jpg
WHQR/Nick Santillo
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A branch of the Cape Fear River near Wilmington.

Because of COVID-19, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a suspension of its enforcement of environmental laws, telling companies they won’t have to meet environmental standards during the outbreak. What does that mean for the Cape Fear Region?

The temporary policy, for which the EPA has set no end date, allows industries to ignore environmental laws. The agency says it will not “seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting obligations.”

But that doesn’t mean that companies like Chemours can resume discharging contaminants into the air or into the Cape Fear River.  Not if the state has anything to do with it. 

Sharon Martin is Deputy Secretary for the North Carolina Department of Environment Quality.

“During the current public health crisis, DEQ continues to protect air quality, water quality and human health under all state environmental rules and regulations. Under our authority DEQ will work with regulated entities to ensure they remain in compliance and in instances of noncompliance, pursue enforcement actions on a case by case basis.”

Her message is simple: EPA may have relaxed the rules, but the state Department of Environmental Quality has not. Vince Winkel, WHQR News.