DNR Announces COVID-19 Environmental Compliance Process

April 6, 2020

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently announced a process to provide regulatory flexibility pertaining to compliance issues, due to COVID-19.  In addition, under Governor Evers’ Safer at Home Order, DNR is currently prioritizing imminent threats and complaints pertaining to public health, safety, and environment over routine inspections and audits.

Here is what the DNR recommends:

Emergencies:

For an emergency that creates an “imminent or actual threat to health or the environment,” such as certain spills or compliance issues, report it immediately upon discovery by calling 1-800-943-0003.

Non-Emergencies:

For a regulatory compliance issue that does not propose an imminent or actual threat to health or the environment contact your DNR compliance contact/project manager and email a request for the regulatory flexibility that you need.  The email should include:

  • the name of the site/facility;
  • contact information for the point of contact for the site/facility;
  • the specific requirement for which the site/facility is seeking flexibility;
  • the reason for the request and how it relates to COVID-19;
  • what measures will be taken to minimize potential environmental impacts; and
  • the time period for which the flexibility is sought.

If your DNR contact cannot be reached, make a request using DNR’s online form, which is available here:   https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WDNRComplAssist. DNR notes it will evaluate requests on a case-by-case basis, and that alternative compliance methods should not be implemented until approved by DNR.

In non-emergency situations in which DNR authorized an alternative compliance method prior to implementation, entities must also maintain records documenting implementation of the authorized alternative.

For more information pertaining to DNR’s COVID-19 Environmental Compliance Process, go to https://dnr.wi.gov/emergency/COVID19Compliance.html.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also published a memorandum that provides regulatory flexibility relating to environmental regulatory requirements in light of COVID-19.  For more information on that policy, click here. Note that the EPA and DNR policies contain different requirements.

If you have compliance questions or need other assistance, please contact your Axley environmental attorney.