Industry Groups Ask California To Delay Pollution Rules, Citing Pandemic

Miranda Green
In this Oct. 26, 2018, file photo, downtown Los Angeles is shrouded in early morning coastal fog and smog.  (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

LOS ANGELES — Industry groups are pushing for California regulators to delay new environmental measures, including those meant to promote clean air. Their reason: the economic stress the COVID-19 pandemic is putting on their businesses.

Groups have sent at least six letters to California officials in the past two weeks requesting delays or modifications to new pollution limits on the oil and gas, transportation, building and agriculture sectors, according to documents shared with HuffPost. The rules are set to go into effect later this year, but industry is asking to push back or indefinitely delay those implementation dates. 

The businesses represented say that given the economic strain, it’s simply not the time. Industries have seen success with that argument on the national level, after the Trump administration paused federal environmental regulations last month. But California, one of the most environmentally stringent states in the country, is a different battle. Given the long-standing industry opposition to the new rules, the effort to tie the coronavirus to the same regulations reeks of opportunism to critics ― made particularly disturbing as the rapidly spreading disease specifically affects people’s ability to breathe. 

Bill Magavern, policy director for environmental advocacy group The Coalition for Clean Air, likened some of the industry requests to “wartime profiteering.”

“It’s cynically trying to take advantage of a national emergency to achieve their own goals of just increasing their profits at the expense of public health,” he said. “All of these polluters [are] trying to exploit this crisis as a way to delay or even weaken health protective standards that, of course, they had never liked.”  

California’s Unique Position

The coronavirus pandemic has caused major damage to the U.S. economy, bringing everything from restaurants to retail to a halt. The country’s daily economic output is down 29%, according to...

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