EPA Wants to Prevent Communities from Opposing Pollution in their own Backyard

chimney-3705424_1920-1024x646Talk about federal government overreach! The EPA is planning to weaken rules that allow local communities to have a say in deciding how much pollution in their backyard is too much.  If the agency’s proposed changes go into effect, local individuals and community advocates would no longer be able to appeal to a panel of judges EPA-issued pollution permits that they oppose. More precisely, the new rule would allow the industrial polluter to appeal to the panel to INCREASE its allowed pollution, but the affected community could not appeal to REDUCE the pollution! The proposed rule change is so bad that even industry lawyers seemed surprised by its inequity.

This outrage is just the latest act of environmental sabotage by the EPA since Donald Trump took office.  Other efforts to roll back environmental regulations that protect public health include a rule weakening regulations of greenhouse pollution from power plants (hello, climate change), a coming plan to weaken rules on tailpipe pollution, and a proposal to open most of the US coastline to oil drilling.

Environmental law experts say the proposed rule change will give polluters an even stronger influence over the EPA and could lead to more lenient pollution permits which would hurt poor and minority communities who tend to live closer to polluters than more affluent citizens. The end result for many communities would be that they would no longer have a voice in decisions–made by the pro-pollution EPA– that would affect their homes and their health.

This is so wrong that it is almost unbelievable. In our environmental law practice, we represent hundreds of people who have seen their home values plummet or their health destroyed by cancer because of unchecked pollution. Their voices need to be heard. But it is apparent that the only opinion the current EPA cares about is the opinion of polluters.

The EPA is betraying its own mission to protect the environment and public health. Instead, it has decided that its job is to tear down environmental protections as quickly as possible. Now it wants to hand over control of our local communities to polluters.

It’s time we let the EPA know what we think about this.

Meg Collins contributed to this blog.

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