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Tue Apr 7, 2020, 04:18 PM

Broadcast and cable news ignoring the Big Polluter agenda happening under the cover COVID-19

As the nation grapples with the deadly coronavirus pandemic and the economy is brought to a standstill, the Trump administration is moving forward with its deregulatory agenda which severely threatens public and environmental health -- and in some cases, makes us more vulnerable to COVID-19. While polluting industries have long sought sweeping deregulatory changes, the collective national focus on the coronavirus pandemic now gives them the perfect opportunity to accelerate those changes and pursue additional oversight rollbacks only possible during a national crisis.

Climate reporters, digital outlets, and some legacy news media have done an excellent job of highlighting these regulatory assaults on the environment, but broadcast and cable TV news have been nearly silent on these issues. That silence is journalistic malpractice at a time when social distancing and stay-at-home orders have caused broadcast and cable news shows’ ratings to skyrocket. Shining a light on the Trump administration’s environmental abuses is a story that absolutely needs to be told now -- in some cases, these actions have direct implications for the pandemic.

It is more important than ever to know about the dangerous priorities of this administration and the polluting industries that are being favored by the president during a national emergency. Below are some of the major environmental rollbacks and pro-polluter actions that the Trump administration is pushing forward during the coronavirus pandemic:

Companies are given a free pass to pollute

On March 26, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suspended its Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program, meaning that companies will not face any penalties for polluting air or water. This announcement came after the oil industry’s largest lobby group, the American Petroleum Institute (API), sent letters to Trump and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler asking them for regulatory and compliance relaxations on their operations. API cited coronavirus as the reason for these relaxations. Ironically, these new rules will result in more pollution, a major cause of respiratory illnesses -- “potentially putting the communities who live near these facilities at an increased risk for contracting COVID-19.”


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