The Trump administration is pressing on with its attacks on the environment, citing the pandemic as an issue when the result furthers their agenda — but not when it would allow the necessary scientific input.
This kind of cherry picking can only put public health in further jeopardy, as this roundup of stories shows.
Trump administration refuses to protect Americans from soot
The administration has proposed keeping outdated national protections against particulate matter pollution – commonly called soot – in spite of a mountain of scientific evidence showing that our current standard, set nearly a decade ago, is not adequate to protect public health.
The bottom line: Soot is linked to premature death and causes a variety of heart and lung diseases, including the underlying conditions that make some people more vulnerable to COVID-19. We need stronger, more protective limits on this dangerous type of air pollution.
The administration is undermining our safeguards against mercury and other toxic pollution
Mercury causes brain damage in babies and young children. Other pollutants covered by the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards cause cancer and lung diseases. EPA’s own analysis shows the standards save up to 11,000 lives each year. But the administration is threatening the standards, and that could allow more poison into our air, water and food.
The bottom line: EDF will take legal action to defend our national protections against mercury and toxic pollution from coal-fired power plants.
The EPA gives industry a green light to pollute
On March 26, 2020, the Trump administration announced an expansive waiver of environmental rules — and a halt to environmental monitoring — allowing power plants, factories and other industrial operations to determine for themselves if they are able to meet legal requirements for protecting the public from air and water pollution.
The bottom line: Broadly waiving environmental rules during a pandemic is fraught with dangers. The EPA’s mission is to protect public health and the environment.
Clean cars rollback weakens life-saving protections
The administration’s rollback of the successful Clean Car Standards will add more dangerous pollution to our air, making Americans sicker and ultimately causing thousands of premature deaths and as many as 200,000 domestic jobs.
The bottom line: Despite the EPA’s rollback of Clean Car Standards, EDF will take legal action to fight for better, cleaner cars that can benefit our health and economy.
Flawed review of toxic chemical was rushed
In February, 2020, the EPA issued a draft risk evaluation for the highly toxic chemical, trichloroethylene, also known as TCE. Major scientific flaws led the agency knowingly and drastically underestimate the risk this chemical poses to pregnant women and children. Regardless, the EPA rushed ahead with its peer review despite key public health experts being absent due to the crisis.
The bottom line: To protect women and children from highly toxic chemicals like trichloroethylene, the EPA must follow the science and allow time for experts to participate in essential reviews of its risk evaluations.
Censoring science endangers everyone’s health
The EPA is trying to rush through an expanded proposal to censor the science that guides public health and environmental protections — ignoring well-established procedures for vetting scientific research. Even vital coronavirus and cancer research could be banned.
The bottom line: We can’t let the EPA censor science, full stop. The only way to protect human health and the environment is to support and advance rigorous science in policymaking and government.
Act when it matters most