The Trump administration: Actively pursuing new and destructive health policy changes during the pandemic

(Illustration: Creative Commons)

It doesn’t really come as any surprise that what many have persuasively labeled the worst presidential administration in U.S. history would be doubling down on its reactionary agenda at the same moment that its utter ineptitude in handling the public health pandemic is costing scores of people their lives every day. Still, there’s something especially noxious and maddening about the idea of pursuing changes that will assure the unnecessary death of vast swaths of  human, animal and plant life around the world at the very moment a terrible global pandemic is raging.

But hey, that’s how the Trumpists roll. When in doubt, put near-term greed and the interests of wealthy corporate bosses ahead of everything else. A Sunday editorial in the Greensboro News & Record explains:

While we’re hunkered down, distracted by the current crisis, the Trump administration is continuing a concerted assault on environmental protections.

At the end of March, the Trump administration rolled back impending vehicle mileage standards, a move that will lead to an increase in the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change — and will also lead to more respiratory illness, like asthma, especially among young people. Drawing on the government’s own projections, the Environmental Defense Fund advocacy group projects 18,500 additional deaths from respiratory problems and other illnesses by mid-century, along with more illnesses and lost work days, should the Trump standards be implemented.

But wait, it gets worse, notes the editorial:

On March 18, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — a name that under administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, is Orwellian — released a proposal that would limit public and scientific input to changes in agency rules. No public hearing on the proposal has been scheduled — nor is it likely to be scheduled at this time.

The EPA, along with the U.S. Interior Department, will likely try to push other wish-list items through while opponents are distracted, like the sale of public lands to oil companies and increased attempts to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

As we’ve been reminded in recent days — days here in North Carolina that have been marked by almost painfully stunning spring beauty — one of the tiny slivers of silver lining in the current horrific disaster has been the sharp drop-off in deadly poisons that humans have been pumping into the atmosphere as a result of our sudden reduction in fossil fuel usage. Yesterday in Raleigh, it almost felt as if nature was celebrating the decline in human-made pollution.

None of this is to imply, of course, that the current situation is desirable. We obviously need to get out of quarantine and back to normal life. It is, however, worth remembering that COVID-19 is far from the only public health plague that confronts our planet right now. Thousands — probably millions — will also die premature deaths in the decades ahead thanks to air pollution and the climate crisis it is abetting. And right now, at a moment in time in which our fragility as a species has seldom been more plainly demonstrated, President Donald Trump and his evil minions are taking advantage of this desperate situation to compound the mess and further endanger the well-being of the planet.

Shame on them.

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