On March 25, the EPA announced it is rolling back environmental protections in response to the coronavirus. These changes allow power plants, factories, and other facilities to decide for themselves if they can meet legal requirements on reporting water and air pollution, giving them full power over their own monitoring. They are being asked to “act responsibly,” which essentially means they have a free pass to pollute as much as they want without legal interference. This action is a result of requests from businesses to relax regulations, as they find their profits plummeting due to the halt in the economy.
Cynthia Giles, who previously headed the E.P.A. enforcement division, said: “This is essentially a nationwide waiver of environmental rules. It is so far beyond any reasonable response I am just stunned.”
In a sane system, the response to a global pandemic would not be to allow businesses to pollute as much as they want, without even having to keep track. We would not prioritize the profits of polluting industries over air and water quality. But we live in capitalism, which means crises serve as perfect moments for industries to push their profit-boosting agendas at the expense of human and planetary health. All the organizing we do today, to build solidarity and consciousness among our co-workers, will help us prepare to fight for a rational organization of society, socialism. What we do today with those around us matters.
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