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While our backs are turned …

To the editor:

While our backs are turned, trying to figure out who is in or outside of our COVID “bubble” or, for some of us, whether we can return to work/school/with child care, pay the rent, buy food or repair the car, there are companies who are gleefully capitalizing on the distractions brought to us, courtesy of the pandemic.

The list seems endless:

1. Bailout funds meant to support small businesses going to huge, polluting oil and gas industries that were on shaky ground before the pandemic;

2. Tax breaks, loans, waivers of fees on industry extraction from public lands;

3. Easing of restrictions on logging, grazing and disposal of hazardous wastes on those same public lands;

4. Easing of crucial environmental regulations found in the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and, particularly ironic, the Clean Air Act.

We have a virus attacking weak lungs. And yet the EPA recently refused to tighten requirements for smokestack particulate matter that weaken those same lungs, most often within the bodies of black and brown people living in neighborhoods alongside industries that watch the Dow Jones Industrial Average more than the hospitalization rate of its neighbors.

Remember acid rain and its effects on our lakes? A recent increase might be the start of a trend. Vigilance is in order.

Understandably clutching at some silver lining, much of the general public notes only that the pandemic has reduced smog, cleaned some city waterways and decreased human presence on city streets so that wild animals have ventured in to explore.

Make no mistake: The cleanup is short lived, and the surge of “opening up” under weakened regulations and rules is already placing us quickly and irreversibly down a very different path.

Keep watch …

Katharine M. Preston

Essex

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