WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will not punish companies for violating some pollution standards because of the new coronavirus.

“We should not use the crisis as an excuse to not engage in the basic protections for our environment,” Dan Kildee, D-Mich., said.

Kildee says he fears allowing companies and factories to pollute air and water supplies, for any reason, will do more harm than good.

“It doesn’t make sense to deal with one threat and then introduce the possibility of another,” he said.

“We think it’s incredibly foolish,” Collin O’Mara, president of the National Wildlife Federation, said.

O’mara says if air pollution increases, Americans with lung illnesses will be in even greater danger.

“Because we know that those who are more susceptible to the coronavirus are the ones who have respiratory challenges,” O’Mara said.

He says it also impacts those most likely to have lost their incomes because of the crisis.

“When these laws aren’t enforced, it’s not typically the suburban, well-off communities that are the ones that are hurt, it’s the communities of color, it’s communities of seniors and low-income folks.”

In a memo, the EPA says polluters will get a break if they can show how the coronavirus outbreak made it difficult to meet pollution standards.

But Kildee says he wants answers.

“Obviously, they’ll hear about it from Congress,” Kildee said.

Some states say they will step in if the EPA truly steps away from enforcing the pollution standards.

The EPA says the rule change is temporary.