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EPA cites COVID-19 to give a free pass to polluters

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States are left to enforce basic environmental protections

 

EPA cites COVID-19 to give a free pass to pollutersIn one of its most brazen actions to date, the Trump administration indefinitely suspended federal enforcement of environmental laws including the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. The Administration directed EPA to abdicate its duty to protect human health and the environment from polluters, so long as they claim COVID-19 was to blame.

At the same time, EPA continues to pursue regulatory rollbacks, rejecting requests by grassroots groups to extend comment deadlines. In effect, the Trump administration is using the coronavirus pandemic to undermine our environmental laws and benefit industry. It’s shameful.

Thankfully, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has signaled its ongoing commitment to environmental protection. The state denied wastewater treatment plant operator requests to suspend state enforcement of environmental laws. Riverkeeper applauds DEC staff for fighting COVID-19 and holding firm on other protections for human health and the environment. And we appreciate the thousands of people in Hudson River communities from Albany to New York City who are continuing to work under these extraordinary circumstances to operate drinking water supplies and wastewater treatment plants for our protection.

Riverkeeper vows to continue to hold polluters accountable through Clean Water Act citizen suits, just as we have done for nearly 50 years. We will review and respond to anonymous watchdog tips about any violations that foul our waters and harm our communities.

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