The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a sweeping suspension of its enforcement of environmental laws Thursday, telling companies they would not need to meet environmental standards during the coronavirus outbreak.
The temporary policy, for which the EPA has set no end date, would allow any number of industries to skirt environmental laws, with the agency saying it will not “seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting obligations.”
Cynthia Giles, who headed the EPA’s Office of Enforcement during the Obama administration, called it a moratorium on enforcing the nation’s environmental laws and an abdication of the agency’s duty.
The coronavirus has made many routine activities impossible, or nearly impossible.
Thus it’s understandable that enforcement of environmental laws is difficult if not possible during the crisis.
But is the suspension of EPA enforcement an inevitable outcome of the virus, or an attempt to take advantage of the situation for industry to skirt what are often costly environmental laws? Laws that limit emissions of toxins into air, water and on land, or exposure to toxins by employees or the public, or the destruction of wetlands, waterways and other environmental features?
Part of the goal of the #OWUENVS project is to make sure that, amid the virus crisis (visis?), we don’t open the door to unnecessary environmental destruction.