Top 11 Things You Should Know about Trump, Coronavirus, and EPA

Using the coronavirus pandemic as a cover to reward their industry, polluter friends, the Trump Administration has now decided to stop EPA enforcement of environmental protection laws. Yes, you read that correctly. During one of the biggest health crises in modern times, the President has decided to further endanger our health.

To cover its tracks, Trump’s EPA has put out a ludicrous statement claiming that media outlets haven’t actually read the memo and that reporting of its newly-announced rollbacks amidst a crisis is inaccurate. But we read it thoroughly and can confirm that what’s being reported is accurate. Read our initial thoughts.

Read below for our Top 11 Things You Should Know about Trump, Coronavirus, and EPA.

Top 11 Things You Should Know about Trump, Coronavirus, and EPA

1. Free Pass to Pollute

The EPA has cut criminal enforcement of critical health and safety regulations and now they want to cut nearly all remaining enforcement of environmental compliance.

2. Shock Doctrine

This latest move by the Trump Administration takes advantage of this crisis to further its assault on public health and environmental protections. 

3. Big Oil’s Dirty Moves

This radical policy was in response to a direct request to the White House by the oil and gas/petrochemical industry, which is reeling from the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the oil price war set in motion by Russia and Saudi Arabia. 

4. Surrendering Authority

The EPA has acted recklessly by surrendering its enforcement authority when it wasn’t necessary. While this pandemic may affect facility operations, this policy goes far beyond what is appropriate. 

5. Sacrifice Zones

Fossil fuel and chemical facilities are often located in vulnerable, low-income communities of color that are disproportionately burdened by environmental hazards and exposure to toxic chemicals that contribute to higher rates of disease, including asthma, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, which are all risk factors for COVID-19.

6. Communities in the Dark

People living near these facilities need to know as soon as possible about toxic chemical releases in their communities. Facilities must be required to conduct sampling and monitoring, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

7. Missed Opportunity for Better Use of Technology

Instead of using the crisis as an excuse to allow companies off the hook, EPA should be aggressively exploring options for using technology for remote monitoring and posting results on the internet in order to further its mission of protecting human health and the environment.

8. Confusion Around Toxic Waste

The EPA memo does not directly address TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act) compliance and enforcement and it’s not clear whether they will address the disposal of TSCA regulated toxic wastes in a subsequent policy memo. 

9. Chemical Giants Off the Hook

Provisions in the memo appear to give polluters a blank check to blame COVID-19 as “the cause of the noncompliance.” The EPA left the door wide open for industry to threaten public and environmental health during this time of crisis and it’s possible that chemical facilities will argue that COVID-19 was the “cause” of noncompliance with these TSCA testing, data, reporting and record keeping requirements. Of particular concern is noncompliance with TSCA Section 8 reporting requirements that apply when a company becomes aware of adverse health effects of a chemical, such as employees adverse health effects reports and substantial risk notices. 

10. Violating States’ Rights

The EPA Administrator talks a lot about involving states and calls this “cooperative federalism,” but this decision was unilateral and the states were not involved, consulted, or even informed in advance.

11. EPA Enforcement Staff

What are these people going to spend their time doing if the Administration doesn’t want to let them do their jobs?

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