President Donald Trump’s administration, as well as corporations, believe they can never let a crisis go to waste, and they definitely have not wasted the coronavirus crisis.
The following is a list of stories we’re following, which show officials and business executives are employing what journalist Naomi Klein called the “shock doctrine.” In other words, these examples show they are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to push their agenda for the markets.
If you see any stories we missed, we encourage you to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will keep updating as the United States remains on lockdown.
Trump Administration Weakens Mercury Rule For Coal-Fired Plants
Regulations on mercury and various other toxic metals were weakened by Trump administration officials. In 2016, the EPA concluded that reductions of mercury emissions would reduce the harm to pregnant women, as well as infants and children. It would reduce health care costs. However, EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler, a coal lobbyist, determined the costs to coal companies is far too high, and he altered the rule to allow for more pollution. [April 16]
Power Plants, Vehicle Manufacturers Not Required To Lower Emissions
EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler, a coal lobbyist, announced it would not increase regulations of industrial soot emissions. Wheeler even went so far as to accusing a study of bias after it showed “tiny industrial particles” make certain American communities vulnerable to death from the coronavirus. [April 14]
Interior Department Presses Ahead With Drilling Project In Alaska
West of the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Trump administration proceeded with ConocoPhillips’ Willow project. InsideClimate News reported the “massive development” is “expected to produce approximately 590 million barrels of oil over its 30-year life, and it could include a central processing facility, up to 250 wells, an airstrip, pipelines and a gravel mine.” [April 8]
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Moves To Deregulate Nuclear Waste Dumping
The U.S. government agency tasked with regulating nuclear energy moved to massively deregulate the disposal of nuclear waste, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a group known for its work representing environmental whistleblowers in government agencies.
PEER contended NRC’s plan would allow “every reactor in the country to dump virtually all its radioactive waste except spent fuel in local regular garbage dumps, which are designed for household trash not for plutonium.” [April 2]
Environmental Protection Agency Waives Regulations On Pollutions For Corporations
The Trump administration announced companies did not have to comply with regulations against pollution during the coronavirus pandemic. They would not face penalties if they broke the rules or failed to comply with “routine monitoring.” All they have to do is tell the EPA they violated guidelines because of the outbreak.
Cynthia Giles, former head of EPA enforcement for President Barack Obama’s administration said the waivers “amounted to a nationwide moratorium on enforcing the nation’s environmental laws and is an abdication of EPA’s responsibility to protect the public.” [March 27]
Trump Proposes Allowing GMO Crops In Wildlife Refuges
Following a campaign by the Center for Food Safety and other groups, President Barack Obama’s administration agreed to phase out genetically engineered crops on national wildlife refuges in 2014. But the Center for Biological Diversity called attention to a proposal by the Trump administration that escalate the use of such crops in refuges in the southeastern region, including 131 refuges in 10 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Harmful pesticides would be permitted too. [March 20]
Trump Administration Proposes ‘Framework’ For ‘Democratic Transition’ In Venezuela
Having failed to seize control of Venezuela through a coup attempt led by Juan Guaido, the State Department released a “framework” that officials urged Venezuela to adopt. It demanded Maduro’s government support the National Assembly, controlled by right-wing forces, which would create a new “Council of State” that would become the executive branch and replace Maduro’s government. A date for elections would then be set 6-12 months from now. [March 31]
Justice Department Charges Venezuela President With ‘Narco-Terrorism,’ Offers Bounty
The Trump administration charged Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro and other officials with “narco-terrorism.” Officials in the Justice Department charged two other officials with “corruption.” They offered multi-million dollar bounties for the officials.
Maduro responded by accusing Trump officials of “using a new form of coup d’état on the basis of vulgar, miserable and unfounded accusations.” The country’s foreign minister suggested the charges were a result of “deep frustration” because the government has “neutralized coups and destabilizing attempts planned and financed from the United States.” [March 26]
State Department Intensified Crippling Sanctions Against Iran
As part of a “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran, the State Department added sanctions against Iran to “deprive the regime of critical income from its petrochemical industry and further Iran’s economic and diplomatic isolation.” Iran described the move as a “crime against humanity,” especially as it hampered the government’s ability to fight the coronavirus and save Iranian lives. [March 18]
IMF Rejected Venezuela’s Request For Billions In Aid To Help Fight Coronavirus
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is based in Washington, D.C., denied a request for a $5 billion loan to help Venezuela strengthen their “detection and response systems” for fighting COVID-19. The IMF maintained they could not consider the request because they lacked “clarity” on who is the leader of the country’s government. [March 18]
U.S. Military Strikes Against Militia Groups In Iran Supposedly Backed By Iran
The U.S. military retaliated against Kataib Hezbollah, a militia group in Iraq that officials believe to be backed by Iran. The strikes significantly increased the threat of violence because Iraq’s military said the strikes killed “three Iraqi army commandos and two federal police.” One civilian was killed at an airport as well. [March 13]
Trump Administration Suspends Immigrant/Nonimmigrant Visa Services For Guest Workers From Mexico
Furthering the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico suspended consular and visa services. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue indicated no more applications for a guest worker program would be accepted, even as farms and growers need labor to keep producing food. [March 18]
National Labor Relations Board Issues Rule Making It Much Harder For Workers To Unionize
The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) noticed the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) adopted a rule to make it more difficult for workers to organize and “keep a union.” They also suspended “union elections, including mail ballot elections.”
At a time when many workers deemed ‘essential’ during the COVID-19 pandemic are navigating issues of health and safety, and looking for ways to have their voices heard, it is unconscionable that the agency responsible for ensuring workers have the right to a voice in the workplace has denied them the ability to exercise these rights. [March 31]
Federal Reserve Appoints BlackRock To Manage Corporate Debt Purchase Program
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink was appointed by the Federal Reserve to “oversee” the Federal Reserve’s $4.5 trillion slush fund for the purchase of corporate debt. But the corporation actually controls up to $27 trillion more dollars in various business sectors.
Like Joyce Nelson outlined for CounterPunch, “This much consolidated financial power may be unprecedented, but with BlackRock involved in virtually every major corporation across the planet (including the media), even BlackRock’s competitors (if that word even applies) are quiet about Fink’s appointment.” [March 24]
Nuclear Industry Clamors For A Bailout
Back in 2019, the nuclear power industry pushed for a bailout from the Trump administration. They were denied. However, according to Friends of the Earth, the industry now demands a 30 percent tax credit and pushed for handouts in a coronavirus stimulus package. They even requested “waivers for existing regulatory fees.” [March 23]