These cuts won’t just mean that EPA is doing less to protect our water, they also hit state and local governments and drinking water systems hard. States where Clean Water Action works would lose out on federal funding, leaving taxpayers and ratepayers holding the bag.
To stave off the worst effects of the climate crisis, the global and U.S. economies need to decarbonize as fast as possible. Capturing carbon emissions from industrial sources and pulling carbon out of the air via direct air capture are technologies we will likely need in our toolbox if we are to achieve net zero or negative greenhouse gas emissions.
The Trump administration finalized its signature Clean Water Act rollback, the Dirty Water Rule. This extreme interpretation of our bedrock water quality law rolls back the clock to a time when corporate polluters could dump toxic waste into rivers and streams and pave over wetlands without seeking a permit.
New analysis finds big impacts in oil producing states
Last week EPA held a public meeting in DC to share updates and take public comment on the agency’s study of oil and gas wastewater, also known as produced water. The oil and gas industry has grown significantly in water constrained states around the country, like Texas and New Mexico, and has a long history of putting drinking water sources at risk, from California to Pennsylvania.
California’s efforts to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions have earned it a reputation as a climate leader. Most of the state’s actions, however, have focused on the “demand-side” of carbon emissions: reducing energy consumption, increasing efficiency, using cleaner fuels and energy sources, and reducing vehicle miles traveled. However, as the country’s 5th largest oil producer (recently falling from 3rd), the state has never done enough to keep polluting fossil fuels from being produced in the first place.
On Thursday, news broke of a spill from the Keystone pipeline. The 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) of toxic tar sands oil that was discharged into South Dakota grasslands was the largest spill on the Keystone to date. But every day, the oil industry intentionally discharges far greater volumes of toxic wastewater in the environment, and nobody seems to notice.
While CCUS may eventually prove to be a viable strategy for addressing climate change, using captured carbon to increase the production of oil and gas undermines the climate mitigation goals of carbon capture and storage. At the same time, CO2-EOR presents risks to groundwater, the environment, and the health of communities living near oil fields. As a known threat to drinking water sources, enhanced oil recovery is regulated by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Underground Injection Control (UIC) program.
EPA is already underfunded, suffering from years of budget cuts despite its crucial role in protecting all of us. Further reducing EPA’s budget would severely limit its ability to protect our water, air and climate. The proposal calls for slashing grants to states to carry out their environmental and health protection programs.
Yesterday, EPA’s Office of Water held a listening session on what Scott Pruitt and Donald Trump call, “the regulatory burden.” We call it public protections for our air, water, and health. I had the opportunity to testify. My comments are below. If you want to weigh in, you can take action here, and be sure to personalize the message you send.