Amid the crisis of COVID19, the Trump Administration has been churning out environmental regulation halts and rollbacks, all of which prioritize corporate profit over the wellbeing of people. Read below to learn about the most recent federal rollbacks.
Clean Car Standards Rollback
On March 31st, the Trump Administration announced a rollback regarding the Clean Car Standards Act. The Clean Car Standards Act is a part of the Clean Air Act, which is a federal law that requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish national air standards in order to protect public health from air pollution. The Clean Car Standards were put in place to allow states to push for stronger tailpipe pollution limits in order to protect the health of community members. “These moves that the federal government is making is pushing aside over 50 years of environmental efforts to protect our air,” said Faith in Place Outreach Coordinator Christina Krost.
Krost spoke in 2018 at a hearing against Ford when the company was threatening to not comply with Clean Car Standards, saying, “Pollution from the transportation sector is deeply tied to issues of racism and environmental injustice, as low-income communities and communities of color are more likely to be impacted by their proximity to interstates and highways. As a person of faith, I believe it is my moral obligation to oppose policies that endanger the health of these families and communities.”
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is rolling back the previous car standards with an erroneously named SAFE Vehicles rule (Safer-Affordable Fuel Efficient Vehicles Rule). The SAFE Vehicles rule requires a 1.5% reduction in standard carbon emissions annually, while the previous car standards required a 5% reduction. This policy will result in higher emissions rates per year, leading to more cases of asthma and premature deaths in addition to the irreparable damage it will have on the climate. Wheeler stated that the move was to make regulations less costly for the car industry, however, it could end up costing the automotive industry 60,000 jobs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this lack of concern for public health is not only despicable, but dangerous to our communities.
To take action against this rollback, sign on to our petition.
EPA Environmental Regulations Come to an Abrupt Halt
On March 27th, the EPA announced that they are not requiring companies to meet environmental standards during the coronavirus outbreak. The result of this policy would allow companies to avoid receiving any sort of penalty for disregarding reporting or tracking of pollution emissions. These environmental regulations were originally set in place to keep communities safe from polluters having free reign to dump toxic residue into the environment. The halt in corporate accountability to environmental regulations is a clear indicator that the EPA is using the coronavirus public health crisis as a way of prioritizing big business over the health of people. The stop in regulations will have an especially negative impact on low-income and black and brown communities who have historically lived in areas with higher levels of pollution.
“The EPA has declared these environmental standards as nonessential measures during COVID-19,” said Faith in Place Energy and Climate Change Coordinator Isioma Odum. “But it is essential because it impacts people’s health. A significant amount of people will be impacted by the amount of emissions in the air, and a large portion of those impacted are communities of color.”
There is a systemic history of low income and communities of color being the main groups subjected to higher pollutants and are therefore more susceptible to chronic illnesses. It comes as no surprise then that they are also the groups who are more likely to experience more severe COVID-19 outcomes brought on by pre-existing conditions and respiratory illness as a result of living with higher rates of air and water pollutants. In a recent map created by Jvion and Microsoft, there were stark correlations between a community’s projected rate of severe COVID-19 outcomes and their proximity to industrial facilities. Another recent analysis by WBEZ showed that 70 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Chicago were black. Chicago’s black population makes up 29 percent of the entire city.
“Solidarity, peace, and human dignity are principles that are associated with a lot of different faiths and backgrounds that unite us all and exemplifies what the world should look like. For black and brown communities that means having access to clean air.” Isioma said. “COVID-19 has taught us that everyone wants health and to flourish. The EPA initially puts in policies because they see that it’s needed to help protect communities. Why would you put that policy there if you just want to take it away? What are you saying by doing this?”
Champion against EPA environmental regulation halts by signing on to our petition.