A common response to COVID-19 by governments worldwide is deregulation. Advocates assert that rolling back health, safety and environmental rules is an economic necessity amid a virus-driven economic crisis, but critics say it’s nothing more than raw opportunism that brings profound long-term risks.
Scotland: Save the … salmon farms?
The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency has released a “temporary regulatory position statement” to help salmon farmers.
Salmon farming is controversial for its practice of raising the normally nomadic fish in huge underwater pens that concentrate their waste products, producing both pollution and disease.
The agency says that reducing regulations will strengthen the industry, which is facing a worker shortage as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the land.
Advocacy groups such as Scottish Salmon Watch, the Coastal Communities Network, and the Scottish Salmon Think-Tank accuse the salmon-farming industry of hijacking the COVID-19 crisis to serve their own long-term goals of rolling back environmental protections.
They claim that the relaxation of rules will lead to substantial damage from pollution and other ill-effects of commercial salmon farming.
Source: The Ferret
Indonesia: Public opposition is stymied
In 2019, massive popular street protests helped defeat the Indonesian government’s sweeping plans to deregulate fishing, mining, and land development in the interest of economic growth.
There’s even a 2011 law on the books that requires public participation in the Indonesian legislative process.
But in the age of the coronavirus pandemic, with street protests and public participation all but impossible, Indonesia’s parliament is working rapidly to pass unpopular laws.
These include a jobs bill with an amendment that would reintroduce the defeated measures from 2019, boosting coastal development, deregulating mining, getting rid of environmental impact assessments, and easing fines and other penalties for environmental destruction.
Fossil fuels: Now more than ever
Deregulation of the fossil fuel industry and related energy sectors is happening rapidly in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.
According to a report by InfluenceMap, a data firm that tracks the influence of corporations on climate-change policy, the oil and gas industry “appears to be” actively lobbying governments to demand “both financial support and deregulation in response to the COVID-19 crisis.”
Another report finds that economic stimulus programs in China and elsewhere could result in “decades” of dependency on coal power, despite coal-fired power plants operating at a loss around the world.
In addition to the economic costs, critics say, increased use of coal and other fossil fuels will also increase carbon emissions, exacerbate climate change, and perpetuate mining and drilling practices with high ecological costs.
Sources: Renew Economy, World Coal