Excerpted from “Here’s how Congress could hold the EPA accountable for its ‘dereliction of duty,'” Grist, Oct. 4, 2021, Yvette Cabrera.
Last year, a coalition of environmental groups called the EPA decision reckless, filed a lawsuit, and asked the agency to issue an emergency rule requiring those polluters who took advantage of the relaxed standards to submit written notice to the EPA — and for that information to be made public. The court, however, found that the groups had no legal standing to move forward with the lawsuit.
Last month, a coalition of some of those same organizations, in partnership with the Vermont Law School Environmental Justice Clinic, issued a report calling for public transparency around the implementation and effects of this policy, which was in place for more than five months as COVID-19 cases skyrocketed among Indigenous tribes, communities of color, and in low-income areas across the country, many of which have borne the brunt of environmental degradation for decades.
Jose Bravo is the executive director of the San Diego-based Just Transition Alliance, a national coalition of environmental justice organizations and labor unions that was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and a member of this coalition. Bravo told Grist that understanding how the EPA’s relaxed standards affected air pollution levels and other types of contamination is paramount to understanding how much of an impact the policy had on vulnerable communities. “It is very hard to see, because everybody left their post,” he said.