Thousands of pollution monitoring exemptions made to oil and gas industry amid pandemic

“It’s like saying, ‘We’re going to remove the radar guns and remove speedometers, but you still have to comply with the speed limit. That doesn’t make sense.”

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A recent investigation, done by AP, found that thousands of oil and gas operations, government facilities, chemical plants, and other sites had stopped being monitored for hazardous gas emissions and other harmful procedures that negatively affect human health and the environment. 

Environmental regulators, who were supposed to be monitoring pollution reports across the country, granted more than 3,000 requests from the oil and gas industry. 

According to EcoWatch, the Trump administration, under pressure from the oil and gas industry, allowed for the exemptions in late March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The industry claimed that lockdowns and social distancing made it difficult to comply with anti-pollution regulations. 

“We believe that by taking these measures, we can do our part to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” claims  Tim Peterkoski, environmental auditing and processes manager for Marathon Petroleum. Marathon Petroleum was already struggling financially before the pandemic and really took advantage of Covid-19 by aggressively have regulations dialed back. According to AP, Marathon also pushed for and was granted permission to skip environmental tests at many of its refineries and gas stations in California, Michigan, North Dakota, and Texas.

“It’s like saying, ‘We’re going to remove the radar guns and remove speedometers, but you still have to comply with the speed limit. That doesn’t make sense,” says Eric Schaeffer, now head of the Environmental Integrity Project advocacy group. 

The investigation’s findings run counter to statements made by the EPA in June that the coronavirus was not impacting compliance and monitoring, and that the industry was not seeking relief, reports EcoWatch

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