Responding to COVID-19

Large group of people as seen from above. Credit: Stockernumber2 / iStock

Stronger together

The public health and economic crisis created by COVID-19 and the drastic measures taken to flatten the curve of the virus to protect the public impacts all of us. Many of the people and families hardest hit right now already bear the brunt of the climate crisis and water and air pollution and have seen systematic disinvestment in their communities for decades. This crisis requires a massive response from all levels of government and our society.

  • The response must be focused on relief for people, not corporate bailouts, and must invest in public health
  • Congress must directly invest in our most vulnerable neighbors and communities
  • We must not give handouts to industries, like the fossil fuel industry, that have polluted our air and water for decades while pushing our climate to the brink
  • Any corporations getting bailed-out must clean up their act and reduce the harm they cause to our water, air, climate, and public health
  • Any response must also uphold our existing bedrock laws like the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act
  • We should ue this as an opportunity to invest in the future -- clean energy, more transit options, and more

Clean Water Action stands in solidarity with our allies fighting for economic justice, racial justice, and more. We're continuing to work in coalition to find safer alternatives to toxic chemicals, end plastic pollution, protecting our water ,and uplifting our communities. Below are the statements and letters we have joined. This page will be updated as we sign on to more coalitions and letters.

Objecting to blanket EPA Waivers for Polluters During the COVID-19 Crisis

Dear Assistant Administrator Bodine: We write to oppose EPA’s apparent plan to waive certain environmental compliance requirements for petrochemical plants and other polluting industries in response to the coronavirus. While it may be reasonable in limited circumstances for EPA to exercise discretion on a case-by-case basis to temporarily refrain from enforcement where the pandemic has clearly undermined a facility’s ability to comply, we oppose any blanket or advance waiver of environmental requirements for several reasons. Read the full letter here

5 Principles for Just COVID-19 Relief and Stimulus

The COVID-19 pandemic demands swift and unprecedented action from the federal government. The depth of the crisis and the scope of the response mean that choices being made right now will shape our society for years, if not decades to come. As policymakers take steps to ensure immediate relief and long-term recovery, it is imperative that they consider the interrelated crises of wealth inequality, racism, and ecological decline, which were in place long before COVID-19, and now risk being intensified. This is a time to be decisive in saving lives, and bold in charting a path to a genuinely healthier and more equitable future through a just recovery. Learn more here

Relief for People, Not the Fossil Fuel Industry

On behalf of our millions of members, supporters, and workers, we the undersigned strongly support your efforts to respond to the COVID-19 global public health crisis and its economic ramifications and believe that any government economic stimulus package or supplemental funding in response at least should not exacerbate two other ongoing crises – climate change and environmental injustice – and rather should advance solutions that boost economic recovery and tackle those two crises as well. Read the full letter here

Moratorium on Electric and Water Shutoffs

On behalf of our millions of members and supporters nationwide, we, the undersigned 577 organizations—including energy democracy and justice, environmental justice, utility justice, environmental, faith, labor, health advocate, consumer advocate, and legal educational organizations— write with deep concern about the impacts of the coronavirus national emergency on the access to electricity, water, and other basic utility services for millions of low-wealth households. The coronavirus pandemic is already resulting in the widespread loss of wages and jobs across the country and will disproportionately impact low-wealth households. As these losses impact the ability of families to pay for essential utility services, access to electricity and running water for handwashing are crucial to protect households and our communities from the spread of disease. Read the full letter here

Supporting Emergency Transit Funding

Due to the economic slowdown brought on by the spread of the novel coronavirus, many sectors of our economy are in need of financial support. Social distancing and reduced demand for certain public services are having, and will continue to have, a negative impact on many agency operating budgets, including public transit.

We strongly urge Congress to provide public transit agencies with at least $12.875 billion in immediate direct financial assistance to ensure the continuation of safe and reliable service, including when the public health crisis has subsided but agency budgets are still experiencing strain. Read the full letter here

Opposing a Bailout for the Cruise Industry

On behalf of our millions of members and supporters nationwide, we write to voice our strong opposition to any assistance for the cruise industry to address the rapid drop-off of worldwide travel due to the coronavirus. Any bailout should be focused on providing relief to impacted workers and affected communities, not the industry itself. Providing U.S. taxpayer dollars to massive foreign cruise ship corporations that pollute our environment, take advantage of tax loopholes, and flag ships in foreign countries would allow the cruise industry to return to business as usual, which is unacceptable. This polluting and destructive foreign industry does not deserve a bailout from American taxpayers, especially not in the middle of a national health emergency. Further, in 2018 the top three executives of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Carnival Corporation and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings collected a total of $48,500,000 in compensation. This is hardly a figure showing that this industry needs a bailout. Read the full letter here

Pausing Public Comment Period

Due to the emerging health crisis in the United States and beyond, and the recent executive order declaring a state of national emergency on March 13, 2020, we request a formal pause on all open public comment periods1 on active rulemakings and non-rulemaking notices from the Department of Interior (DOI) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), primarily managed by the Federal Register and, as well as the ePlanning and Planning, Environment & Public Comment (PEPC) sites for the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service, respectively. Read the full letter here