State and Federal Agencies, and Private Sector Clients, instruct Environmental Firms to Continue with Projects as Scheduled

In reviewing the rapidly changing climate amid the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 Environmental Group is hearing from our industry contacts across the U.S. that public agencies as well as certain private sector clients that support Critical Infrastructure, Energy, and Environmental Protection are considered “essential businesses” and that work must continue. And by extension, the environmental consultants who support these critical projects are also deemed essential and their project work must continue.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has identified 16 Critical Infrastructure Sectors “whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety.” By extension, many States have adopted similar Essential Business guidelines, and specifically naming Environment as one.

“We are hearing from our environmental and public works agency clients that they are considered “essential businesses” or functions and therefore have authorized/asked their consultants to continue working on their projects without being in non-compliance with the adopted orders,” says Leslie Molton-Post, CEO of Environmental Science Associates (ESA).

John Cowdery, CEO of Cascade Environmental observed this, “In many of the states that we provide services, we are being considered essential related to infrastructure related projects. As an example, with ports, schools and commercial offices temporarily shutting down, many of our public, municipal and private clients are taking advantage of this opportunity to address site investigations and remediation activities while these facilities are free of operational disruption.”

“The State of Arkansas has declared us an essential business and reminds us we must still meet our obligations under our contract” said Phil Coop, Chairman of Ensafe. Ensafe’s CEO Don Bradford also elaborated by saying, “This interpretation is consistent with Federal guidance on the 16 Critical Infrastructure sectors.”

Additionally, the rapidly unfolding situation of COVID-19 response has provided some new business opportunities for EH&S firms.
“Because we’re considered an essential business, we’re seeing an uptick in the demand for environmental, health and safety (EH&S) services within TRC’s emergency response groups. We’re also seeing some emerging opportunities from our private clients and various state and federal agencies on how we can help with their local response to COVID-19” says David Tiernan, SVP at TRC. “The interesting thing is that despite the travel restrictions and having our people work from home, the impact to our firmwide utilization is manageable.”

We here at 2020 Environmental Group are aware that the situation is rapidly developing and will be checking in with our industry contacts and providing insights as events unfold. However, we find these early indications a reassuring development on the critical importance of the environmental industry in these uncertain times.