(CBS NEWS) — The Trump administration introduced this week a sweeping relaxation of environmental laws and fines during the coronavirus pandemic. According to new guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), companies will largely be exempt from consequences for polluting the air or water during the outbreak.
In a letter to all government and private sector partners on Thursday, the EPA's Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Susan Parker Bodine said that the agency does not expect power plants, factories or other companies to meet environmental standards and reporting of pollution during this time — and it won't pursue penalties if companies break the rules.
Under normal circumstances, companies are required to report when they release certain levels of pollution into the air or water. Now, the EPA has effectively ceded its federal authority to state offices and said companies will be responsible for monitoring their own air and water pollution during this time.