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OPINION

ICYMI: Coronavirus hasn’t stopped Trump from rolling back environmental regulations

While the state and the world focus on the coronavirus outbreak, other stories fly under the radar.

President Trump.
President Trump.Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Sure, there’s a pandemic raging in the United States. But that hasn’t stopped the Trump administration from pursuing one of its favorite pastimes: rolling back environmental regulations.

The New York Times reported that the administration is rushing to finalize rules reducing fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles, while also telling power plants and factories to monitor and decide for themselves whether to report air and water pollution for the immediate future.

Making cars more fuel efficient is one of the key strategies to reduce planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions. And moving to more efficient cars and trucks requires government mandates, especially now that gas prices are plummeting and consumers might be less likely to consider mileage in their vehicle choices.

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When the coronavirus crisis passes, Congress shouldn’t forget about the administration’s rollbacks. And if they retake the White House, Democrats need to start reversing them.

It’s not the only news flying under the radar screen during the outbreak:

* Justice for Jamal. Prosecutors in Turkey charged 20 Saudi nationals in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a 2018 incident that marked a shocking escalation of the Saudi government’s war on its critics. Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the target of a plot that Western intelligence agencies believe was ordered by the kingdom’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The indictment reaches high into the ranks of the Saudi government, and accuses two senior officials of instigating the killing. It’s a small step, but true justice won’t be served until the Saudi government comes clean.

* Should the draft include women now? A commission to study the future of the nation’s selective service program recommended that the program, which currently requires all men to register once they turn 18, be extended to women. It would a step toward equality, but is it really necessary? The United States hasn’t conscripted soldiers since the Vietnam era, and the current selective service program has never been activated.

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* Just saying no to opioid prosecutions. According to a damning report by ProPublica, federal prosecutors assembled a strong case against big-box retailer Walmart for the opioid-distribution practices at its pharmacies, only for Trump administration appointees to quash the case. What’s going on? When the virus outbreak passes, the Justice Department will have some explaining to do.