Statement of Matt Kent, Regulatory Policy Associate, Public Citizen
Note: Sunday, Sept. 13 marks six months since President Donald Trump declared a public health emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Coalition on Sensible Safeguards has tracked Trump’s regulatory rollbacks during this period in Pandemic Rollbacks. During that time, the administration has repealed at least 30 public protections and proposed at least 20 more rollbacks unrelated to COVID-19.
Instead of using their regulatory and enforcement powers to implement a national pandemic response, Trump officials have sabotaged or obliterated essential health, safety, environmental, anti-discrimination and financial safeguards for the American public.
Many of the rollbacks have come from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has weakened or eliminated numerous clean air and water protections. The EPA also sought to undermine environmental rulemaking by rigging the agency’s processes for considering scientific research and calculating the costs and benefits of its proposals.
Unlike his uncoordinated response to the pandemic, Trump’s deregulatory push involves his entire administration. Nearly every cabinet agency has attacked public protections during the pandemic. Since March 13 the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Treasury and Labor have finalized at least two major deregulatory actions that have nothing to do with the pandemic. The Energy Department has aggressively rolled back appliance efficiency requirements, while the Justice Department has focused on crippling the immigration system. And the Interior Department has issued at least four actions to reward the fossil fuel industry.
Nearly 200,000 Americans are dead and more than 6 million have been infected with COVID-19 because of the administration’s disastrous response, but Trump’s priority is showering giant corporations with deregulatory special favors. It’s an appalling betrayal of the American people.