In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“PADEP”) recently announced the availability of a process for requesting temporary suspensions of environmental permitting and regulatory compliance obligations.  Regulated entities experiencing difficulties due to COVID-19 in meeting the terms and conditions of their environmental permits or complying with environmental regulatory provisions should consider submitting a form request to PADEP for relief.  Completed forms must be submitted to RA-EPCOVID19SuspReq@pa.gov.  While PADEP’s offices remain closed, program staff continue to work remotely to process submitted requests.

Unless a temporary suspension is granted
Continue Reading PADEP Responds to COVID-19: How to Ask PADEP for a Temporary Suspension of Environmental Compliance Obligations

If your head hurts, it might be because you are one of the many who have been thrown off the Life-Sustaining Business Roller Coaster, which has had more ups, downs, loops, and spin-arounds than any coaster at Hershey Park.

At 4:00 P.M. yesterday, Governor Wolf released an updated FAQ for Life-Sustaining Business (“Updated FAQ”).  Perhaps the most glaring change is that “[a]ll exemption requests MUST be submitted no later than 5:00 P.M. on Friday, April 3, 2020.”  (Emphasis added.) We have heard the more than 32,000 waiver applications have understandably overwhelmed the Department of Community and Economic Development (“DCED”), which is charged with reviewing waiver applications.

The Updated FAQ has been revised significantly
Continue Reading WAIVER DEADLINE & New FAQ Updates for Life-Sustaining Businesses

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”), which executes the Secretary of Homeland Security’s authorities to secure critical infrastructure, updated its guidance on “what is” and “what is not” essential critical infrastructure to include housing construction.  The addition is significant because Governor Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania to close their physical locations, including housing construction job sites, to slow the spread of COVID-19 (“Governor’s Order”).  Interestingly, the Commonwealth’s webpage that provides information on the Governor’s Order specifically references CISA.  It states: “Business guidance has been updated after conversations with businesses, stakeholders, and individuals and has been aligned with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency advisory released.” 
Continue Reading Housing Construction: “Essential Critical Infrastructure” Says U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security

During the COVID-19 pandemic, real estate professionals have struggled to get documents notarized while respecting social distancing requirements. The Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA), after all, requires an individual making a statement or executing a document to “appear personally” before the notarial officer. Recent direction issued by the Department of State which can be found here, however, indicates that the physical presence requirement in RULONA will be relaxed on a temporary basis for certain types of real estate transactions.

For personal residential real estate transactions
Continue Reading **UPDATE: In-Person Notary Requirements Relaxed for Real Estate Transactions**

In her post, Public Meetings Amidst Social Distancing, on the McNees Public Sector Blog, Erica Wibble, provides a great update on guidance for municipalities trying to comply with the Sunshine Act during the COVID-19 pandemic and under Governor Wolf’s Order (which we have discussed in numerous other posts).  A few highlights are below, but please be sure to read her entire post for more details.

According to the Office of Open Records, any agency [not able to meet in person] must provide a reasonably accessible method for the public to participate and comment pursuant to Section 710.1 of the [Sunshine] Act. Further, the Office of Open Records strongly recommends that any agency holding such a meeting should record the meeting and proactively make the recording available (preferably online) so that a full and complete record of the meeting is available to the public.
Continue Reading Guidance on Conducting Municipal Meetings/Hearings During the COVID-19 Pandemic

From my colleagues with our Government Relations Group and Capitol Buzz:

During the daily COVID-19 update provided by the administration, Gov. Tom Wolf instituted a “shelter-in-place” order for seven counties in the Commonwealth, including those in the Philadelphia region and Allegheny County in western Pennsylvania.

The order, which came 24 hours after the city of Philadelphia announced action of its own to order its residents to stay home, will go into effect starting at 8:00 p.m. Monday, March 23.

Specifically, the “shelter-in-place” order will apply to
Continue Reading **Update 3/23/2020; COVID-19: Shelter in Place for 7 Pennsylvania Counties**

Just over 24 hours after announcing that all “non-life-sustaining” business must close their physical locations, Gov. Tom Wolf delayed the enforcement of his Executive Order until 8:00 a.m., Monday, March 23. The Governor said in a press release that the Order for “non-life-sustaining businesses” to close physical locations still stands and that businesses applying for a waiver must remain closed until a decision is made about their application.  The administration’s decision to delay the enforcement of the Order was due to the high volume of inquiries and requests for waivers submitted by concerned and impacted businesses across the Commonwealth. Many of whom are either life sustaining businesses themselves or are in the supply chain for a life sustaining business.  It is expected that the Commonwealth will begin enforcing the Order, as warned
Continue Reading **Update 3/22 on Governor Wolf’s Order to Close Businesses**

**UPDATED 3/21/2020**

Governor Tom Wolf ordered all “non-life-sustaining” businesses throughout Pennsylvania to physically close their operations by 8 p.m. on March 19, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Enforcement begins at 8:00 a.m., Monday, March 23.  With the Order, the Commonwealth issued a list of life-sustaining and non-life-sustaining businesses.  Residential and commercial construction were on the list of businesses that must close, absent a waiver from the Order.  The Commonwealth’s list is intended to be consistent with the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response, also released March 19, 2020.  For developers and builders who may be in critical stages of construction or who have environmental responsibilities under permits (such as the PAG-02 or individual permit for discharges of stormwater associated with construction activities), an immediate shutdown simply cannot be achieved.  So what are you to do?
Continue Reading UPDATE – 3/21/2020: The Governor’s COVID-19 Order: Compliance with Environmental Permit Requirements