IEC Statement on EPA Protection Rollbacks During Outbreak

posted on Friday, March 27, 2020 in Council News

Over the past three years, the Trump administration has attempted unprecedented rollbacks of foundational federal environmental regulations. Yesterday, under the guise of pandemic response, the U.S. EPA announced it is suspending enforcement of almost all environmental compliance reporting and will allow industry to police itself for the foreseeable future.

Although the Iowa Environmental Council is sensitive to the staffing or monitoring challenges some industries may face at this time, such as public drinking water utilities, a general suspension of some environmental reporting and penalties – with no anticipated process or date for restoring public health and environmental protections – creates an unacceptable risk for people across the country.  

“Clean air and water are critical to public health. A health crisis is no time for the EPA to allow a pollution free-for-all that results in further environmental health threats,” said Kerri Johannsen, Energy Program Director with the Iowa Environmental Council.

“Clean water is a critical necessity for the operation of our health care system and to provide sanitary conditions to help Americans stop the spread of this virus. Dereliction of clean water oversight could result in a compounded public health crisis,” said Ingrid Gronstal Anderson, Water Program Director with the Iowa Environmental Council. “Furthermore, it is important to ensure that vulnerable and at-risk populations are protected from pollutants and other threats that can exacerbate health problems and drive more people into the health care system.”

“The EPA needs to reevaluate this decision,” said Johannsen. “Relaxation of oversight should be done with a scalpel instead of a bulldozer to provide appropriate - and temporary - regulatory relief without wholly dismantling environmental reporting and enforcement, without even a date to revisit this decision."

Read the EPA statement.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has addressed some regulatory issues for environmental protections in Iowa, including drinking water and air quality. View their website for details.

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