The mismatch between science, reason and the Trump Administration grows wider every day, especially–but certainly not exclusively– when it comes to the environment.
Our Buffoon-in-Chief was just at Davos, where attendees identified climate change as the most significant challenge facing humans. That followed a speech by Trump in which he dismissed climate science as a “hoax.”
For the past three years, this administration has been dismantling the EPA and ridding the federal government of those pesky scolds we call scientists. Meanwhile, recent discoveries suggest previous estimates of the extent to which our waterways have been dangerously polluted were unrealistically low.
The contamination of US drinking water with manmade “forever chemicals” is far worse than previously estimated with some of the highest levels found in Miami, Philadelphia and New Orleans, said a report on Wednesday by an environmental watchdog group.
The chemicals, resistant to breaking down in the environment, are known as perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Some have been linked to cancers, liver damage, low birth weight and other health problems.
The findings here by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) show the group’s previous estimate in 2018, based on unpublished US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, that 110 million Americans may be contaminated with PFAS, could be far too low.
Worse still, scientists tell us that it is nearly impossible for Americans to avoid drinking water that has been contaminated with these chemicals, which were used in manufacturing products like Teflon and Scotchguard.
So where is the EPA?
The EPA has known since at least 2001 about the problem of PFAS in drinking water but has so far failed to set an enforceable, nationwide legal limit. The EPA said early last year it would begin the process to set limits on two of the chemicals, PFOA and PFOS….
In 2018 a draft report from an office of the US Department of Health and Human Services said the risk level for exposure to the chemicals should be up to 10 times lower than the 70 PPT threshold the EPA recommends. The White House and the EPA had tried to stop the report from being published.
Far from protecting the millions of Americans who are imbibing contaminants, Trump’s EPA is rolling back federal protections of the nation’s waters. According to NPR,
The Environmental Protection Agency is dramatically reducing federal pollution protections for rivers, streams and wetlands – a move welcomed by many farmers, builders and mining companies but opposed even by the agency’s own science advisers.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who announced the repeal of an earlier Obama-era rule in September, chose to make the long-anticipated announcement Thursday in Las Vegas, at the National Association of Home Builders International Builders’ Show.
The biggest change is a controversial move to roll back government limits on pollution in wetlands and smaller waterways that were introduced less than five years ago by President Barack Obama.
The Obama executive action, which broadened the definition of “waters of the United States,” applied to about 60% of U.S. waterways. It aimed to bring clarity to decades of political and legal debate over which waters should qualify.
Well, if there is one fight the Trump administration has clearly won, it’s the fight against clarity. But I digress…
In a draft letter posted online late last month, the 41-member EPA Science Advisory Board, which is made up largely of Trump administration appointees, said the revised definition rule “decreases protection for our Nation’s waters and does not support the objective of restoring and maintaining ‘the chemical, physical and biological integrity’ of these waters.”
Fourteen states have sued over the rollback, arguing that by returning the U.S. to standards of 1986, the EPA is ignoring subsequent studies demonstrating how smaller bodies of water connect with and impact the larger ones that are more typically targeted for regulation.
“This regressive rule ignores science and the law and strips our waters of basic protections under the Clean Water Act. Attorneys general across this nation will not stand by as the Trump Administration seeks to reverse decades of progress we’ve made in fighting water pollution,” New York Attorney General Letitia James, who spearheaded the suit, said in a statement.
We can only hope the suit isn’t heard by one of Trump’s new judges…..