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Afternoon Briefs: EPA relaxes pollution rules during COVID-19 crisis; Title IX doesn't protect trans athletes, DOJ says

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EPA relaxes pollution enforcement during coronavirus pandemic

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it would relax enforcement of environmental rules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The EPA said companies should monitor themselves as the agency focuses on “situations that may create an acute risk or imminent threat to public health or the environment.” Companies won’t be fined for violating some routine monitoring and reporting requirements if COVID-19 caused the noncompliance, according to the EPA. Critics said the rules relaxation essentially amounts to a nationwide waiver of environmental rules. (The New York Times, ABC News)

DOJ says transgender athletes aren’t protected by Title IX

The U.S. Department of Justice says Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 does not require or authorize transgender student athletes to participate on athletic teams that reflect their gender identity. The DOJ took that position in a lawsuit filed by three high school girls in Connecticut who oppose competing with transgender athletes. “Title IX and its implementing regulations prohibit discrimination solely ‘on the basis of sex,’ not on the basis of transgender status,” the DOJ said in a statement of interest. (The Connecticut Law Tribune, Forbes, the Associated Press, DOJ filing)

Antitrust agencies signal cooperation for joint COVID-19 work

The U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust division and the Federal Trade Commission have issued a statement saying many collaborative activities to fight the COVID-19 pandemic would be consistent with antitrust laws. The statement said the agencies will “respond expeditiously” to all COVID-19 requests—within seven days of receiving the necessary information. The statement also recognized that some individuals and businesses will have to act immediately. (Corporate Counsel, antitrust statement)

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