Each state and federal agency having regulatory jurisdiction over environmental and energy business sectors in Mississippi have discretion to deal with actual or anticipated emergency events, including the COVID-19 pandemic. This discretion is based in existing state and federal statutes, regulations, permits and enforcement policies. In addition, many of these agencies have already or soon will issue policies specific to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we will be adding links to these policies as soon as they are available.
The primary environmental agencies for Mississippi are the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. On March 26, 2020, U.S. EPA issued a temporary guidance related to EPA’s exercise of enforcement discretion for noncompliance resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The EPA guidance is available here, and we have prepared a summary. On April 2, 2020, MDEQ issued guidance concerning compliance during the pandemic.
In the energy area, the key Mississippi-related agencies are the Mississippi State Oil & Gas Board, the Mississippi Public Service Commission and the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
We have relationships with staff persons in all of these energy and environmental agencies with regard to permitting and compliance matters for Mississippi-based business operations. If information is needed with regard to agency compliance and permitting issues with respect to COVID-19 or otherwise, please feel free to contact us to discuss your best path forward, whether before or after noncompliance occurs.
Also, whether you are in the energy or environmental field, OSHA has provided guidance to assist in promoting employee safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.