Is EPA enforcing environmental laws during the COVID-19 pandemic?
March 28, 2020
by Randall C. Haddock, PhD
Field Director, Cahaba River Society
Each time we wash our hands, we’re reminded that we can’t take clean water for granted. But is the EPA using the COVID-19 crisis to relax their enforcement of pollution?
In response to a request from the American Petroleum Institute, the EPA has announced that for the indefinite future it “will exercise enforcement discretion specified below for noncompliance covered by this temporary policy and resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, if regulated entities take the steps applicable to their situations, as set forth in this policy.”
Unfortunately, this announcement sounds suspiciously close to EPA saying, “We won’t be watching.”
Even if a company’s non-compliance “may create an acute risk or an imminent threat to human health or the environment,” citizens are merely urged to contact the “appropriate implementing authority.”
The fox is in charge of the hen house.
For a deeper dive into this very troubling relaxation of environmental protections, see the following:
- The Hill: EPA suspends enforcement of environmental laws amid coronavirus
- The Hill: Advocacy groups push back on ‘business as usual’ at EPA during coronavirus
Here are responses from some of our partners:
- GASP: COVID-19: Air pollution reductions?
- Southern Environmental Law Center: EPA significantly relaxes rules for polluters amid public health crisis
- Waterkeeper Alliance: Response to suspension of EPA enforcement
What can we do?
Now, more than ever, the your local nonprofit environmental watch groups are crucial to protect our environment.
Have you seen something that looks troubling on the Cahaba River? Let us know. Take photos if possible, and try to make specific notes of the date, time, and location.
We at Cahaba River Society are actively monitoring this situation and will keep you informed about ways that you can take action.
With your support, we’ll get through this together. Are you already a member of Cahaba River Society? Our strength is in our numbers. You can join or renew online now.
Thank you for supporting the resiliency of our River, our drinking water, and our people. We hope you and yours stay safe and well.