10 Jul 2020 Environmentalists Criticize EPA for Protecting Workforce
Efforts to halt the reopening of the economy while making allowances for radical Black Lives Matter protests isn’t the only blatant hypocrisy from the left when it comes to COVID-19 protection measures.
Over at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a five-month hiatus for certain compliance reporting and regulatory enforcement has been a target of green extremists’ ire. A measure to protect nonessential workers and keep businesses operating in extreme instances of COVID-19 protection efforts, this hiatus is by no means turning a blind eye to polluters. Companies have been expected to comply with all existing regulations. But, as EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated:
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.
The discretionary policy is scheduled to expire on September 1.
In a RealClearMarkets commentary, National Center Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen, Ph.D. explains how the left is opposed to a “reasonable effort to keep workers safe in the face of a global health emergency.”
It would appear that safety – which is an absolute must for liberals in most aspects of pandemic precautions – gets a pass when it can be used in “unfairly smearing their political opponents.”
Describing the wisdom of the EPA’s short-term discretionary enforcement policy, Bonner explains:
Rather than force these firms to choose between paying a hefty fine and putting workers at risk, the EPA has granted them flexibility on these tasks.
That doesn’t mean energy firms have a free pass to pollute. The EPA will make exceptions on “a case-by-case basis,” and only if the agency determines COVID-19 was at the root of a firm’s noncompliance. The agency has also explicitly stated that the guidance “does not say that the COVID-19 pandemic will excuse exceedances of pollutant limitations.”
Regarding the cries of the green activists about safety, he adds:
These accusations miss the mark completely. With most non-essential workers staying at home, energy firms can’t meet every federal reporting requirement. The EPA’s guidance will allow firms to scale back administrative work without incurring a fine. The policy doesn’t change federal environmental standards in the slightest.
As to the politics of the situation – much like when advocates for reopening businesses were thwarted from gathering while Black Lives Matter protests were virtually exempt from social distancing orders – Bonner remarks:
Environmentalists are lying to score political points. The memo doesn’t lift limitations on pollutants or any other environmental regulation. And even if they wanted to, energy firms couldn’t just flip a switch and ramp up pollution on a moment’s notice.
To Bonner’s commentary – “The EPA Wants to Protect Workers. Environmentalists are Furious” – at the RealClearMarkets website, click here.