What's Happening

Trump and his EPA dismantle environmental protections under cover of COVID-19 crisis

Last week, the federal government overruled North Carolina’s objection to seismic testing off the coast, saying the activity proposed by the company, WesternGeco, is in the national interest. Trump’s offshore drilling plan will allow the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management to issue permits for seismic testing on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf, from Maryland to Florida.

The decision to overrule the state and environmental advocates, is yet another example of the Trump administration’s disregard for the people of North Carolina and the threat to all coastal communities and wildlife that this decision will impose.

This comes after the Trump administration refused to set stricter national air quality standards, despite a growing body of scientific evidence linking air pollution to lethal outcomes from respiratory diseases such as COVID-19.

From Cardinal & Pine:

Since the pandemic reached a crisis point in mid-March, President Trump and the Environmental Protection Agency have also:

Weakened fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles, which will result in more air pollution and higher emissions of greenhouse gases;

Weakened mercury release rules for oil and coal-fired power plants via a rule that could be used to justify further rollbacks of restrictions on pollutants emitted by fossil fuel companies;

Refused to strengthen standards for soot pollution, which has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, lung damage, and premature death;

Allowed power plants and factories to decide for themselves if they’re able to meet the legal reporting requirements for air and water pollution during the pandemic and;

And allowed the fast tracking of major construction projects, including controversial pipelines and oil projects, during COVID-19, allowing them to sidestep environmental reviews mandated by law.

The costs of Trump’s decisions are disproportionately borne by Black and Brown people — who, in part because of the pollution in their communities, also suffer disproportionately from Covid-19

According to a 2019 study, researchers found that production of particle pollution, also known as soot, was concentrated in majority white communities, while exposure to the pollution was concentrated in minority communities. 

A 2018 study by EPA scientists, also found that those living in poverty had 1.35 times higher burden than did the overall population, and non-Whites had 1.28 times higher burden. Blacks, specifically, had 1.54 times higher burden than did the overall population.

These studies show the inequitable distribution of pollution based on income and widens racial disparities. Communities of color, the poor, elderly and vulnerable populations suffer most of all — yet, the Trump administration does not care. 

Trump is working overtime to strip away the effectiveness of the Clean Air Act and the more than 90 environmental rules that were the government’s biggest effort to combat climate change.

More than 103 days after Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus outbreak, there is still no clear national plan, framework or goal.

More than 120,333 people have died from coronavirus, but Trump would rather prioritize saving time and money for corporations and polluters.

Despite millions across this country making tremendous sacrifices since the beginning of the outbreak, the Trump administration is taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis and are attacking policies that keep our environment — our communities safe. 

We must call for the government to act now to protect our environment and our health.

No longer should we have leaders that will undermine efforts to protect our health, our children, and our environment for corporate profits and their wealthy friends. 

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Alanna Joyner