The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (“LDEQ”) issued an Emergency and Administrative Order on March 19, 2020, to address hardships posed to regulated facilities by efforts to combat the COVID-19 virus. See the order here. The Order expires on April 18, 2020. The Order may be extended and/or amended as the situation evolves. At this time, the Order does the following:
- Cancels all scheduled public hearings and commensurately extends public comment periods associated with those cancelled hearings. It does not discuss public comment periods where no hearing had been scheduled.
- Allows for electronic submittals to LDEQ via email for permitting related purposes, but requires hard copies to be submitted no later than 30 days after expiration of the Order. It provides instructions for submittals larger than 10MB.
- Allows for DocuSign and other e-signatures from responsible officials until the expiration of the Order.
- Only to the extent that a facility does not have appropriate personnel available due to COVID-19, the Order extends by 30 days the time required to comply with the following deadlines that occur between March 19, 2020 and April 18, 2020:
a) Deadlines for Reports. Extends the deadlines lines to submit reports
required by permits, regulations, other authorizations, enforcement actions, or settlement agreements, except no deadlines for reporting required by Title IV, Title V, or PSD air permits are extended.
b) Deadlines to conduct monitoring. Extends the time deadlines to conduct periodic monitoring required by permits, regulations, other authorizations, enforcement actions, or settlement agreements, except no deadlines for conducting any monitoring required by Title IV, Title V, or PSD air permits are extended.
Documentation of the inability to submit the required reports or conduct the required monitoring must be maintained and made available to the LDEQ upon request.
- The time deadlines to file an application for renewal of an existing permit are extended by 30 days if the existing deadline falls between March 19 and April 18, except for Title V air permits. In any case, any renewal application shall be submitted no later than the expiration date of the existing permit.
The Order also provides “The deadline for commencement under any authorization or permit issued under this Order may be extended on a showing that contractors or supplies are not available to commence the work, or if additional time is needed to obtain any required authorization from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, or other local, state, or federal agencies.” However, as no permits or authorizations are currently provided for under the Order, this section appears to have no impact at this time.
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