All Bets Are Off
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided to suspend its enforcement of environmental laws indefinitely in light of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, as The Guardian reports. The move sends a clear signal: pollute with impunity.
“This temporary policy is designed to provide enforcement discretion under the current, extraordinary conditions, while ensuring facility operations continue to protect human health and the environment,” EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler wrote in an announcement.
It’s a move that has enraged environmental advocates. “The EPA uses this global pandemic to create loopholes for destroying the environment,” youth climate leader Greta Thunberg tweeted today. “This is a schoolbook example for what we need to start looking out for.”
“Outrageous,” tweeted Representative Mark Pocan (D-WIS). “Suspending all environmental regulations indefinitely? This has nothing to do with coronavirus. This has everything to do with protecting Big Business.”
To get around environmental laws, all companies will have to do is prove that they had to violate them due to the pandemic. Oil refineries, many of them in Texas, have already been blasting past the limits of carcinogenic benzene emissions, according to The Guardian.
Worse air quality could actually end up making the pandemic much worse. “Excusing the potential release of excess toxic air pollutants and other pollution that exacerbates asthma, breathing difficulty and cardiovascular problems in the midst of a pandemic that can cause respiratory failure is irresponsible from a public health perspective,” a letter penned by former head of EPA enforcement Cynthia Giles reads, as quoted by The Guardian.
READ MORE: Trump administration allows companies to break pollution laws during coronavirus pandemic [The Guardian]
More on coronavirus and the environment: The Coronavirus Pandemic Drastically Reduced Carbon Emissions