Coronavirus is stalling air quality, pollution rules, even in eco-minded California


As experts warn that exposure to pollution can increase the risk of dying from COVID-19, an array of powerful industries is pressuring California regulators to delay or roll back air quality and climate regulations due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The trucking industry wants to stall new emissions-reduction rules. Oil companies want looser enforcement of existing regulations. Port and shipping interests are pushing to delay rules on ocean vessels as they become Southern California’s largest source of smog-forming pollution.

Will Barrett, clean air advocacy director for the American Lung Assn. in California, said the lobbying effort is a “brazen attempt to use the COVID pandemic as a justification for long-held policy complaints about clean air programs in California” and accused industry of using the crisis “as cover to roll back or delay programs that will save lives.”

The breadth of requests presents a conundrum for regulators who, even in eco-minded California, have been open about the need to grant some measure of relief from environmental requirements in response to the pandemic. While officials say their commitment to fighting climate change and air pollution remains unshaken, they are nonetheless postponing compliance deadlines and delaying pollution-reduction rules.

Los Angeles Times, 13 May 2020