The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a sweeping “discretionary” suspension of its enforcement of environmental laws Thursday, pegged to the COVID-19 pandemic. EPA’s memorandum suggests the agency will not hold polluters legally responsible for vital environmental requirements such as monitoring and limiting discharges of pollution to water and air. EPA has set no end date for the policy, which would allow industries to violate federal law without fear of repercussions.
Statement from Daniel E. Estrin, General Counsel and Advocacy Director at Waterkeeper Alliance:
EPA is giving polluters a “get out of jail free” card for pollution violations that will make people sicker. The effects of this temporary measure may be felt for decades: Once polluted, our water, air, and land can take generations to heal.
It’s also notable that at the same time it’s telling polluters not to worry about enforcement, EPA is continuing to refuse basic requests from the public to extend comment periods on proposed rules. This double standard shows that this administration’s EPA continues to put a greater value on helping polluting industries than on fulfilling its mission of protecting human health and the environment.