It’s hard to be shocked these days by something the Trump administration does to harm the environment and public health. But several days ago, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a truly shocking announcement.
Now headed by Andrew Wheeler, a Trump appointee and former coal industry lobbyist, the EPA announced that it will be giving polluters a free pass for the duration of the crisis. You can read the full memo here.
Instead of fulfilling its mission to protect our nation’s air, water and health, the EPA will instead allow industrial facilities to, “determine for themselves if they are able to meet legal requirements on reporting air and water pollution.”
You can read more about it in The New York Times, “E.P.A., Citing Coronavirus, Drastically Relaxes Rules for Polluters.” The article quotes Gina McCarthy, former head of the EPA under the Obama administration and now president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, as calling the plan “an open license to pollute.” While noting that some individual companies might need flexibility, she also said “this brazen directive is nothing short of an abject abdication of the E.P.A. mission to protect our well being.’’
At VPIRG, we couldn’t agree more. It’s reprehensible that industry would use this crisis as an opportunity to roll back essential protections for our air and water. Even worse, these polluters have found a friend in the Trump administration
VPIRG is calling on Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan to oppose this move by the EPA. If necessary, we urge him to take the Agency to court to stop this unlawful act. We’re also calling on Governor Scott and our federal delegation to publicly oppose this action by the EPA.
**You can join us by reaching out to our state elected officials and letting them know what you think.**
Thanks for your help, and stay well.