Letter: EPA hands blank check to nation’s polluters

Published: 4/5/2020 12:01:20 AM

The EPA has forgotten its essential job is to protect the public from pollution.

In a March 26 memo, they opened a wide door to pollution, endangering our health and ability to fight viruses. In response to a March 13 request from the American Petroleum Institute to relax rules, the EPA obeyed. They released a hasty memo permitting “any noncompliance” regarding “air emissions and water discharges” from any industry if operators “document” the pollution themselves and claim noncompliance was related to COVID-19. These blank-check permissions invite excess pollution with no independent records going forward.

Excess pollution weakens us at a time when we most need to stay healthy. For example, air pollution worsens respiratory viral infections and even temporary spikes in air pollutants trigger heart attacks, stressing over-burdened hospitals and putting more patients directly in the path of the virus.

Industries can keep working without official permission to pollute. If oil and gas facilities have enough workers for operations, they can control pollution. They can limit expansion with no harm to reserves because we have a glut of fossil fuels. Chemical manufacturers can limit producing non-essential items.

Pollution control costs money; this is the real story here. Polluting industries should not enjoy permissions that enhance profits while citizens pay with poorer health. We are in this together.

Tell Congress to remind the EPA their essential job is protection from pollution. They are not the Expedient Permission Agency.



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