The EPA is Continuing to Roll Back Regulations
The EPA is rolling back environmental regulations during the current pandemic, which is bothering certain lawmakers. One senator even called what is happening a “pandemic of pollution.” Regulations including fuel efficiency and mercury emissions are now much weaker, and companies can choose if they are able to meet reporting requirements for both air and water pollutants. This is only one of many actions softening the requirements for monitoring, reporting, and reducing toxic pollutants including heavy metals and fossil fuel emissions. The administrator Andrew Wheeler says the EPA is open and is continuing to protect people and the environment.
Wheeler pointed out that 400 new disinfectants have been approved by the EPA for killing the coronavirus versus the 60 approved on March 5. Other actions taken by the EPA include lifting protections for streams, creeks, and wetlands in the United States. Wheeler said the actions taken help farmers, landowners, and businesses. The purpose of the EPA is to protect the environment, so it is failing by reducing protections. He also defended actions that relax fuel efficiency standards created by the Obama administration. Other things that were changed include removing plans to slow down greenhouse gas emissions from coal fired power plants.
The EPA issued 18 deregulatory actions last year and 45 are being created now, which will save businesses billions of dollars in regulatory costs. He defended these actions as well, stating that they are not coming at the cost of enforcing environmental laws. Instead he says that the actions being taken are modernizing old laws and bringing them up to date. Democratic lawmakers do not believe this claim. They think that the current administration is trying to change rules that help prevent greenhouse gases, soot, mercury, and other harmful substances from entering the air.
Other lawmakers criticized the EPA’s actions, calling them gravely concerning that they are being done during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another lawmaker said that the EPA is acting to help industry while hurting millions of Americans. The poor and vulnerable are especially being hurt because they can do nothing about the pollution. Wheeler defended the EPA stating that air quality is better now than three years ago. During the first two years of Trump’s presidency though, air quality data shows that it is becoming worse.