For those of you who were unable to attend your regular smoke school due to the pandemic, the EPA has provided guidance in a memorandum which can be viewed here. The parts of the memo which affect visible emissions observers are referenced below:
B. Routine compliance monitoring and reporting by regulated entities
Entities should use existing procedures to report noncompliance with such routine activities, such as pursuant to an applicable permit, regulation or statute. If no such procedure is applicable, or if reporting is not reasonably practicable due to COVID-19, regulated entities should maintain this information internally and make it available to the EPA or an authorized state or tribe upon request. In general, the EPA does not expect to seek penalties for violations of routine compliance monitoring, integrity testing, sampling, laboratory analysis, training, and reporting or certification obligations in situations where the EPA agrees that COVID-19 was the cause of the noncompliance and the entity provides supporting documentation to the EPA upon request.
After this policy is no longer in effect, the EPA expects full compliance going forward. In general, absent exigent circumstances, the EPA does not plan to ask facilities to “catch-up” with missed monitoring or reporting if the underlying requirement applies to intervals of less than three months. For other monitoring or reports, such as those required on a bi-annual or annual basis, when this policy is no longer in effect, the EPA expects facilities to take reasonable measures to resume compliance activities as soon as possible, including conducting late monitoring or submitting late reports.
Our interpretation of the EPA's guidance is that you can continue to perform VE observations with an expired certificate as long as you make every effort to recertify when schools are available.