The Wall Street Journal yesterday disclosed that Scott Pruitt, EPA Director, is working to limit the veto power of the agency over large projects impacting water quality. The agency has used the veto power sparingly – only 13 times since it was given the authority in the Clean Water Act of 1972.
Pruit believes the veto authority has gone too far impeding economic development, “I am concerned that the mere potential of EPA’s use of its… authority before or after the permitting process could influence investment decisions and chill economic growth by short-circuiting the permitting process,”, in a 4 page memo to regional staff.
Why is this clean water common good responsibility so hard to execute? If a person dumped all his waste water and sewage in the street in front of his neighbors’ house, the neighbor would be upset and rightfully so. So, why do we treat mines, real estate developments, or port development any differently? Is it because they are trying to make a profit while desecrating the land so it is ok?
Chromium-6 a known carcinogen made famous in the movie ‘Erin Brockovich’ has been found in the drinking water of millions of Americans. The non-profit Environmental Working Group has been monitoring the status of chromium-6 found in 2017 the substance in the drinking water of over 200 million people. So, there are dangerous substances that still need to be monitoring in our drinking water.
The EPA has not taken in its public stewardship responsibility to the level of other countries, there are thousands of chemicals that can cause pollution and possible health hazards – none have been added to the pollutants list since 2000. The list is small only 90 are covered in the Clean Water Act out of about ten thousand. In the European Union they closely track over 2,500 different chemicals.
While the EPA is not as diligent as it needs to be, President Trump a year ago weakened the Clean Water Act requirement that mining companies ensure that water dumped into streams be cleaned to safe water standards. The policy shift impacts the drinking water of over 117 million people.
Source: Scientific American, – 3/10/17
The GOP Administration continues to undermine protections in place for 40 years to ensure clean water is available to all citizens. The lead levels found in Flint, Michigan water show that in some areas around the country the job is not getting done. Weakening the Clean Water Act in regard to mining dross and limiting the use of EPA veto on projects are just two examples of an indifferent and dangerous attitude by the agency.
In a Gallup poll 57 % of the people said they favor ensuring environmental quality over economic growth when a decision needs to be made.
Source: Gallup – 4/2/18
When are we going to get a government that represents the will of the people on issues of our very survival like the environment? The EPA Director worked as attorney general in Oklahoma relaxing environmental laws and now he is plowing ahead not protecting the public and not steadfastly defending the common good. Congress needs to act to update the Clean Water Act from updates in the 1980s, give the EPA a clear message that protecting the public is the first priority over economic costs.