Markey says EPA administrator should apologize to minorities for coronavirus response

Markey says EPA administrator should apologize to minorities for coronavirus response
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: New documents show EPA rolled back mileage standards despite staff, WH concerns | Land management bureau grants 75 royalty rate cuts for oil and gas | EPA employees allege leadership interference with science in watchdog survey EPA's Wheeler grilled by Democrats over environmental rollbacks amid COVID-19 Markey says EPA administrator should apologize to minorities for coronavirus response MORE (D-Mass.) condemned Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Coal company sues EPA over power plant pollution regulation | Automakers fight effort to freeze fuel efficiency standards | EPA watchdog may probe agency's response to California water issues Coal company sues EPA over power plant pollution regulation OVERNIGHT ENERGY: New documents show EPA rolled back mileage standards despite staff, WH concerns | Land management bureau grants 75 royalty rate cuts for oil and gas | EPA employees allege leadership interference with science in watchdog survey MORE on Wednesday, saying the Trump administration official owes communities of color an apology for his handling of air pollution regulations leading up to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Shame on you, Mr. Administrator. You should be apologizing to people of color in our country for what you are doing. Shame on you,” Markey said during a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee meeting.

Markey’s comments were in reference to studies showing that areas with poor air quality, which EPA studies have found are more likely to be found in communities of color, have higher death rates from coronavirus. Since the pandemic began, the EPA has proposed or finalized seven rules that would impact air quality, according to data compiled by the committee's ranking member, Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump threatens coronavirus funds for states easing voting OVERNIGHT ENERGY: New documents show EPA rolled back mileage standards despite staff, WH concerns | Land management bureau grants 75 royalty rate cuts for oil and gas | EPA employees allege leadership interference with science in watchdog survey EPA's Wheeler grilled by Democrats over environmental rollbacks amid COVID-19 MORE (D-Del.).

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“Every American is being asked to work together to help our communities get through this crisis, but you are taking action to the likely harm of the most vulnerable amongst us. Your decisions make this pandemic worse” said Markey, an original sponsor of the Green New Deal, on Wednesday.

“This is unconscionable. History will remember you for the environmental injustice you have perpetrated in the name of the EPA. You are turning the EPA to every polluter's ally. Those polluters are harming the health of the most vulnerable people in our country right now as their lungs are being attacked by coronavirus. So shame on you.”

Wheeler defended the agency’s record, saying the EPA is working to decrease air pollution.

“There are certainly some environmental justice communities around the country where the air quality is much worse than other areas, but there's also air quality problems in other communities that are not brown or black. But I think every American, regardless of where they live in this country, deserves to breathe clean air and drink clean water," he said.