Trump’s Order May Foul U.S. Drinking Water Supply

Mar 10, 2017

By Annie Sneed

Pres. Donald Trump insists he wants clean water. In a speech to Congress last week, he vowed to “promote clean air and clean water.” And in an interview with The New York Times last November, he said, “Clean water, crystal clean water is vitally important.” Ironically, though, the president just signed an executive order that could pollute many Americans’ drinking water sources.

On February 28, Trump ordered a review of the Clean Water Rule, with the aim of rolling it back. Pres. Barack Obama finalized the Clean Water Rule in June 2015 to clear up confusion over which water bodies the federal government can regulate under the 1972 Clean Water Act, the main federal law for water pollution. Now, legal experts say, Trump appears to want to restrict what types of waters are regulated, much more so than the Clean Water Rule and the regulations before it. Specifically, his executive order—if and when it leads to a final rule—would likely cut protections for many wetlands and smaller streams that help keep U.S. waters clean. All of this could result in dirtier drinking water supplies for millions of Americans. “Almost certainly, some water bodies will face increased pollution under a narrower federal Clean Water Rule,” Daniel Esty, professor of environmental law and policy at Yale Law School, wrote to Scientific American. “It would leave some critical water resources less protected.” Of course, federal agencies will first need to go through a lengthy rule-making process before Trump’s directive becomes a final rule.

The Clean Water Act protects major water bodies like large streams, rivers, bays and other coastal waters, along with streams and wetlands that flow into them from being destroyed or polluted—or, at least, not polluted without federal oversight. It covers a large range of pollutants, including sewage, garbage, biological and radioactive materials, and industrial and agricultural waste. The 2015 Clean Water Rule clarified that federal agencies could also regulate certain types of smaller or more isolated waters, like seasonal streams and wetlands near them, which have a less obvious connection to larger waters. Previously, oversight for those waters was decided on a case by case basis, although protection was often granted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or Army Corps of Engineers. The 2015 rule never really went into effect, however, because a federal court stopped its implementation until judges decide a lawsuit against it, which is still in progress.

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10 comments on “Trump’s Order May Foul U.S. Drinking Water Supply

  • @OP – Now, legal experts say, Trump appears to want to restrict what types of waters are regulated, much more so than the Clean Water Rule and the regulations before it.
    Specifically, his executive order—if and when it leads to a final rule—would likely cut protections for many wetlands and smaller streams that help keep U.S. waters clean.
    All of this could result in dirtier drinking water supplies for millions of Americans.

    But Trump has the perfect business solution!

    He can let the pollution from coal mining and factory emissions go sky-high, BUT if he replaces the Environment Agency staff who competently measure these, with profiteering AGW deniers and pseudoscience quacks who have no idea, they can suppress any real data, and just make up reassuring stories.
    All his believers and Fox and Breitbart followers, can then THINK they have clean air and clean water!!!!
    For the the more discerning, he could create a profitable extended valuable market for bottled water!



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  • Alan4discussion #1

    Donald Trump may be wrongheaded, ill-informed and deluded enough to think like that, but I find it hard to believe that pro-Trumpians will not change their view of him if something as close to home as their drinking-water becoming undrinkable happens. Or perhaps I still underestimate the impressively reckless stupidity and gullibility they have already demonstrated by voting for him.



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  • @Garrick

    Or perhaps I still underestimate the impressively reckless stupidity and gullibility they have already demonstrated by voting for him.

    Unfortunately I think the evidence is that they do. I know a bunch of Christians who even when I pointed out that Trump was at minimum guilty of bragging about sexually assaulting girls (“that was just locker talk”) still support him. And given that Trump was most likely (given multiple testimony) actually guilty of sexual assault but for some reason is not being charge with rape, we need to believe that nothing this guy does would convince anyone capable of believe an email server is the moral equivalent of almost every public act of this orange narcissist.



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  • Garrick #2
    Mar 11, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    I find it hard to believe that pro-Trumpism will not change their view of him if something as close to home as their drinking-water becoming undrinkable happens.
    Or perhaps I still underestimate the impressively reckless stupidity and gullibility they have already demonstrated by voting for him.

    His happy anti-vaxxers, whinge about a tiny amount of a fairly harmless mercury compound in vaccines, while they breath mercury contaminated air and drink mercury contaminated water, from pollution emissions from their beloved coal-fired power-stations!

    https://www.epa.gov/mats/cleaner-power-plants

    There are about 1,400 coal- and oil-fired electric generating units (EGUs) at 600 power plants covered by these standards.
    They emit harmful pollutants, including mercury, non-mercury metallic toxics, acid gases, and organic air toxics such as dioxin.

    Power plants are currently the dominant emitters of mercury (50 percent), acid gases (over 75 percent) and many toxic metals (20-60 percent) in the United States (see graphic at right).

    While newer, and a significant percentage of older power plants already control their emissions of mercury, heavy metals, and acid gases, approximately 40 percent of the current EGUs still do not have advanced pollution control equipment.

    The other big sources of mercury have already reduced their emissions.

    In 1990, three industry sectors made up approximately two-thirds of total U.S. mercury emissions: medical waste incinerators, municipal waste combustors, and power plants.
    The first two of these sectors have been subject to emissions standards for years and as a result have reduced their mercury emissions by more than 95 percent. In addition, mercury standards for industries such as cement production, steel manufacturing and many others have reduced mercury emissions from these sources.

    But don’t worry! Trump is going to fix the problem by reducing EPA staff, repealing the regulations, and hiding the information!



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  • 6
    maria melo says:

    I would like to have a break from bad policies, because I got really tired of everyday news EACH and EVERYDAY, in the last 4 years, and now feel kind of same feeling with Trump, but that´s not my problem Trump is in the other side of the Atlantic (I will worry when part of Lisbon downtown goes underwater perhaps).
    (Well, I was seriously ill last days, perhaps now just feeling too lucky just becuse of being alive, but tired and sick of a stressful life, including to hear about Trump on everyday news).



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  • Garrick

    “Donald Trump may be wrongheaded, ill-informed and deluded enough to think like that, but I find it hard to believe that pro-Trumpians will not change their view of him if something as close to home as their drinking-water becoming undrinkable happens. Or perhaps I still underestimate the impressively reckless stupidity and gullibility they have already demonstrated by voting for him.”

    That is the 64, 000 dollar question. I like to think that losing one’s health insurance, or another (and worse) financial meltdown, or facing a water crisis like the one you mentioned, would be just what the doctor ordered; that is, something capable of producing a shift in such stubbornness. I like to invoke the expression la politique du pire (the politics of the worst); as horrible as it is to face catastrophes, it does seem at times like la politique du pire is our only hope; but if that fails us, what can we do? If that is the case – and I said this on another thread just now – we can then only hope that more people (rather than less) are sensible, enlightened, educated, smart, etc., and are able to vote these neo-fascist plutocrats out. (The electoral college might have to be abandoned or reformed.)

    Maria,

    I know how you feel.



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  • Dan #7
    Mar 12, 2017 at 11:29 pm
    . . . as horrible as it is to face catastrophes, it does seem at times like la politique du pire is our only hope; but if that fails us, what can we do?

    Far be it from me to encourage in any way the use of violence for political purposes, but violence has been known to occur, and understandably so, when people who have been deprived of their political and socioeconomic dues and find themselves without dependable political means of rectifying the injustices that burden them. As French history has demonstrated, violent revolution is a perilous path for any nation to find itself on, yet it is what happens when all else has failed and the few plutocrats continue to ignore the just demands of the many.

    A bloodless revolution like that proposed by Bernie Sanders (though it is really just a return to something like the New Deal that marked a more productive, wealthier, happier time in recent US history, so not really revolutionary, but rather a correction of lopsided policies in more recent decades) is of course preferable. But the plutocrats and their servants in Congress and now the White House are not listening. If the US electorate does not manage to deprive them of their majorities in the halls of power in the upcoming mid-term elections, who knows what may happen thereafter, when the injustices have become even more intolerable?



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  • I have found that the only way people respond to “water alarms” is when the offending particles are :

    Some unpalatable color
    Some unpalatable smell

    You could quite literally lace water with carcinogens and mutagens, and as long as the water is clear and doesn’t stink, the majority of people won’t give a crap. I actually do a water lab with my students where we “taste test” tap water, filtered water, and several brands of bottled water. i have ten years worth of compiled data somewhere in my old computer. We subject the results to chi square statistical evaluations. Without fail, we cannot tell the waters apart by taste.

    Then I have the kids add to our water experiment by bringing in water from their homes. I send them home with sterile collection cups (sealable)… Then, we test the water for a ton of different parameters and across the board there is something awful coming into their houses…. their shower, toothbrush, food prep, laundry, and dishes are soaked in some impurity (often a really bad substance, often at very low concentrations)… Never once has it resulted in a kid that is upset, uptight, or vocal about the hazard they live with daily.

    A few years back, I was “compelled” to change my lab because the school was not happy with the water i was finding coming into our building (it was pink, then was green). They then promptly went out and hired an “outside contractor” to test the water and waived the results around declaring the problem fixed.

    i asked what they had done to fix the problem– like “alright! we ACTED in the best interest of the health of the kids”…. they hadn’t done any remediation. They had used an outside contractor that used different “alarm thresholds” his were more lax than mine.



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  • Oh, and, I hope that the “revolution” that results from this spate of hate is a leader who galvanizes the good people (i truly think that we outnumber the hateful people) and moves us forward in our evolution as a population.

    Violence solves nothing. There needs to be no reason to hate. No reason to hurt. But violence feeds the other side; it is a reason for revenge and mistrust. Of note, populations evolve, individuals do not and we are talking about the world population evolving to a better future. These goons have loopholed their way into power, but it will be short lived and spur change. remember, populations need stress and pressure to change over time. The bad news is, we are in the pressure cooker right now. the good news is that on the horizon is a better humanity — i know because I see the future in my students and they are different from the current power generation, they are better people and they are next to make decisions.

    Our generation has dropped the ball, but because we’ve been such a shitty shitty example, the kids see what we lack and (hopefully) drive society in a healthy direction.



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