WASHINGTON – The Center for Biological Diversity filed a Freedom of Information Act request today for documents related to the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to suspend enforcement of environmental laws in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The EPA’s unprecedented new directive, which has no fixed end date, was announced in a memorandum last week after pressure from polluters. Days earlier the American Petroleum Institute, an oil and gas industry trade association, sent letters to President Donald Trump and the EPA asking regulators to waive its “compliance obligations” for environmental protection laws indefinitely.
“It’s appalling to see Trump’s EPA using the coronavirus as an excuse not to protect Americans from polluters like the oil industry,” said Clare Lakewood, climate legal director at the Center. “This is especially cynical since pollution creates or worsens health problems like asthma that increase our vulnerability to the virus. The public needs to know what kind of influence industrial polluters have on our environmental regulators.”
According to the memo, the EPA will not require companies to monitor their pollution or submit reports for oversight for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week the Center was one of 23 signatories on a letter to the EPA opposing the decision and urging the agency to protect public health. The letter was also signed by Cynthia Giles, former EPA assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance.