At a time when the federal government should be singularly focused on protecting the public health and welfare, the EPA is using the Covid-19 pandemic to give polluters a pass on routine compliance monitoring, reporting and attainment of pollution standards. It’s bad enough that most of the environmental rules that protect our health have been weakened by this EPA; now they’ve found a way around the remaining few: just ignore them.

If free reign to pollute isn’t bad enough, the Trump administration has doubled down on its efforts to finalize further regulatory rollbacks, including measures to weaken automobile fuel efficiency standards, loosen controls on toxic ash from coal plants, relax restrictions on mercury emissions and weaken the consideration of climate change in environmental reviews for most infrastructure projects. Every one of these additional rollbacks are bad for Cape Cod, as well as our health. Every one of them puts our future in more, not less, peril.

Why now? Because they can. Because most Americans are distracted by being consumed with fear for their family’s health and loss of income, and every one of us is grappling with the logistics of social distancing. As we do our civic duty to protect health, Trump’s EPA is busy using this crisis to reward polluters. We no longer have an agency that protects our environment. It barely even pretends to try anymore.

Two of the highest risk factors that makes a person susceptible to death from Covid 19 are pre-existing lung disease and asthma. Air pollution is a chief cause of both and EPA actions increase, not decrease, industry’s ability to release more disease-causing compounds into the environment. As we race to produce more ventilators to get us through this pandemic, the EPA is busy ensuring the need for those ventilators will last far beyond this crisis.

It is an outrage and disgrace. We must fight with every breath we have, while the air is still clean enough to breathe.