Figuring that a public worried about a viral pandemic and their next pay cheque, Team Trump figures this is the perfect time to pull a fast one - or two - or maybe more.
Where better to begin than the EPA, America's already beleaguered Environmental Protection Agency?
The Environmental Protection Agency, headed by former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, announced on Thursday a sweeping and indefinite suspension of environmental rules amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic, a move green groups warned gives the fossil fuel industry a "green light to pollute with impunity."
Under the new policy (pdf), which the EPA insisted is temporary while providing no timeframe, big polluters will effectively be trusted to regulate themselves and will not be punished for failing to comply with reporting rules and other requirements. The order—applied retroactively beginning March 13, 2020—requests that companies "act responsibly" to avoid violations.
Wheeler said in a statement. "This temporary policy is designed to provide enforcement discretion under the current, extraordinary conditions, while ensuring facility operations continue to protect human health and the environment."
Critics, such as youth climate leader Greta Thunberg, accused the Trump administration of exploiting the coronavirus crisis to advance its longstanding goal of drastically rolling back environmental protections.
"The EPA uses this global pandemic to create loopholes for destroying the environment," tweeted Thunberg. "This is a schoolbook example for what we need to start looking out for."
Cynthia Giles, former head of the EPA's Office of Enforcement under the Obama administration, told The Hill that the new policy is "essentially a nationwide waiver of environmental rules for the indefinite future."