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EPA relaxes enforcement, DHS delays REAL ID due to coronavirus

EPA relaxes enforcement, DHS delays REAL ID due to coronavirus
Screeners check passengers arriving at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., on March 13. Photo by Glenn Fawcett/U.S. Customs and Border Protection/UPI | License Photo

March 27 (UPI) -- Two U.S. government agencies have announced major policy suspensions due to the spread of the coronavirus disease.

The Department of Homeland Security said it's pushing back a deadline, by a year, for airports to require REAL ID-compliant identification from travelers. The Environmental Protection Agency likewise announced it will temporarily suspend enforcement of regulations and fines. Both agencies made the announcements Thursday.

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The EPA cited worker shortages, social distancing advice and travel restrictions stemming from the outbreak. A seven-page memo outlined the indefinite suspension.

It calls on all facilities with obligations to adhere to environmental standards to "act responsibly under the circumstances."

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"The pandemic may constrain the ability of regulated entities to perform routine compliance monitoring, integrity testing, sampling, laboratory analysis, training, and reporting or certification," it states.

The new policy is retroactive to March 13.

The DHS' REAL ID deadline, which was scheduled to take effect Oct. 1, was pushed back one year to the same date in 2021. The move gives U.S. airports another 12 months before they begin requiring all travelers to have enhanced driver's licenses that meet the program's security standards.

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"States across the country are temporarily closing or restricting access to DMVs. This action will preclude millions of people from applying for and receiving their REAL ID," the agency said in a statement. "Extending the deadline will also allow the Department to work with Congress to implement needed changes to expedite the issuance of REAL IDs once the current health crisis concludes."

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The program, passed by Congress in 2005, also requires enhanced identification for entry into federal buildings. Several states are already issuing compliant driver's licenses and identification cards.

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Playground equipment is closed off to children to help stop the spread of COVID-19 at a park in Takoma Park, Md., on April 15. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

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