Clean Water Currents | Spring 2017
The first 100 days of the Trump administration have proven without a doubt who this President works for: big polluters like the oil, gas, coal, and chemical industries. The list of anti-environmental actions by this Administration is already staggering. So far the President has signed executive orders that attempt to:
- Fast track Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines;
- Roll back the Clean Water Rule, which protects the waterways that provide drinking water for more than one in three Americans;
- Eliminate the Clean Power Plan;
- Reverse fuel efficiency standards for cars;
- Open up public lands to coal leasing;
- Stop federal agencies from considering the “social cost of carbon” and impacts of climate change.
Trump has enabled the extreme agenda of Republicans in Congress, signing bills that eliminate commonsense protections including:
- The Stream Protection Rule, which would have kept coal mining debris out of waterways;
- Arctic Wildlife Refuge Rule, a rule to restrict cruel hunting practices like shooting bears while hibernating; and
- The Cardin-Lugar rule on oil extraction, an anti-corruption measure that required oil and mining companies to disclose their payments to foreign governments.
His appointed agency heads have advanced an extreme anti-environment agenda. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has publicly questioned the science of climate change, and in a reckless decision, ignored his own agency’s research and refused to ban the dangerous pesticide chlorpyrifos. Ryan Zinke the Secretary of the Interior has been working to open up more public lands to drilling and mining.
The Administration’s proposed federal budget is a direct attack on the environment. He has proposed cutting EPA’s already limited budget by 31%, and getting rid of more than 3,000 employees. He has called for scrapping popular and critical regional programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort, as well as cutting grant money for drinking water system management, for reducing agricultural runoff into waterways, and for the protection of underground sources of drinking water from oil and gas injection wells.
The pro-polluter actions of this Administration are extreme, but not surprising. Nearly every chance he gets, Trump gives another handout to his polluting friends. But Americans didn’t vote for dirty water and rising sea levels. Trump’s anti-environment policies have polled as his most unpopular actions, which is saying a lot. This assault on our health and environment will surely continue as long as Trump is in office, but Clean Water Action and its members will continue to fight it every step of the way.
Big polluters and their friends in Congress are pushing an extreme agenda to roll back vital laws, regulations, and funding that protect clean water, reduce air pollution, and fight climate change. Please urge your representatives in Congress to stand up for commonsense protections, and to reject budget cuts that undermine vital safeguards.
Commonsense initiatives like the Clean Water Rule and the Clean Power Plan must be protected, yet the Trump Administration and some members of Congress have proven they care more about protecting their corporate polluter friends than our water or air.
Take Action Now: Write to your representative in the US House and both of your Senators to stand up to attacks on our health and environment. You can send an email here.
Dear Senator/U.S. Representative,
I urge you to support clean water, clean air, and healthy communities. Please reject any attempts to weaken or dismantle our most important protections, and to oppose budget cuts to EPA and other agencies, that would threaten our water, air, and climate. Please stand up to attacks on:
- The Clean Water Rule, which protects drinking water sources for more than 117 million Americans;
- The Clean Power Plan, which is vital in our fight against climate pollution; and
- EPA’s budget for putting laws into action to protect health and natural resources and responding to crises such as lead contamination.
I urge you to stand with people, not polluters. Please oppose efforts to undermine protections for our nation’s air, land, water, or wildlife.
Sincerely, Print Your Name and Address
Conversations that happen online matter in the real world. Last year’s presidential election, and the rash of questionable stories that were shared online, underscored that point. Additionally, politicians who used to only track phone calls and letters, are now reading — and in many cases responding to — what their constituents post about those issues on Facebook and Twitter.
Our goal for Clean Water’s online communications is to not only share accurate, relevant stories and information that can help our members better understand the challenges to our water and air, but to also provide tools that you can use to hold your elected officials accountable and get more people involved.
Be informed. Take action. With that in mind, Clean Water Action recently launched its Congressional Tracker where we are keeping a tally of actions that undermine and eliminate environmental protections. You can read descriptions of the key votes there, and you can also look up your Representative and Senators’ voting records here. Reach out and contact your legislators on social media; thank them for a strong score or tell that you expect better if they received a poor score.
You can also take action here for a quick and easy way to tell your legislators to reject the Dirty Water Agenda, and you can find other online actions here. You can filter by your state to find local actions.
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Retweet us on Twitter and share our posts on Facebook to help us maximize our reach and impact on the issues that you care about.
This spring, Clean Water released a new report outlining serious oversight problems in Oklahoma’s oil and gas regulatory agency, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC). The report found that the OCC used a widely flawed tool to locate underground sources of drinking water and based thousands of oil and gas injection well permits off of this inaccurate information.
The evidence shows the tool used to locate and protect drinking water, the “base-of-treatable water,” is unreliable. Based on publicly available OCC data, Clean Water found at least 18 injection wells that appear to be injecting into high quality water that should have been protected by the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The report also showed that the “base-of-treatable water” measurement is not accurate by comparing OCC’s groundwater maps to domestic and private water supplies. There are thousands of water wells pulling water from below an area the OCC deems unusable. This calls into question the accuracy of OCC data and groundwater maps and the state’s ability to effectively protect communities’ drinking water from oil and gas activities.
These are potentially serious revelations which require an equally serious response from OCC. Instead the agency agreed that some of their data is out date but insisted no wells were endangering drinking water. Agency officials provided no new information to back their claims. More work needs to be done at the state level to assure Oklahoma residents their drinking water is protected from endless expansion of oil and gas development.
Unfortunately, the Trump Administration’s proposed budget would massively cut EPA’s Underground Injection Control program, which is designed to protect drinking water from injection well activity. These draconian cuts to commonsense drinking water protections would make the problems in Oklahoma harder to address. Clean Water Action will continue to monitor oil and gas activity in states and defend EPA programs from political attacks designed to weaken environmental protections to benefit the few at the top of the oil and gas industry.
Earlier this year, President Trump signed an executive order directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider the Clean Water Rule, fulfilling a promise he made on the campaign trail. The Clean Water Rule clarifies which streams, wetlands, and other critical water resources are protected under the Clean Water Act. Eliminating this safeguard is dangerous and shortsighted because it better protects sources of drinking water for more than one in three people in the United States. Small streams and wetlands also mitigate polluted run-off such as nutrients, sediments, and pathogens; absorb floodwater and buffer communities; and provide essential habitat for fish and other wildlife. Science tells us that healthy streams and wetlands support healthy watersheds, and we need to be doing more, not less to protect and restore these valuable resources.
EPA’s reconsideration of the rule is likely to be a two-step process — step one, the agency will formally announce in the Federal Register that it is withdrawing the Clean Water Rule finalized in May 2015. Step two, proposing a replacement rule, will be a much heavier lift, though both steps will require public comment periods. Trump’s executive order directs EPA to consider replacing the Clean Water Rule with a less robust rule that would only protect rivers and streams that flow year-round and connected wetlands, which could result in nearly half of all streams and over 20 million acres of wetlands losing pollution protections.
This narrow approach will not be easy for the Trump administration because the Obama administration built a strong legal and scientific record to support the Clean Water Rule. It will be a tougher task to justify not protecting critical water resources like small streams and wetlands when the scientific consensus is that they need to be protected and clean water law also strongly supports their protection.
Clean Water Action is already fighting back against this reckless action, joining 25 other environmental organizations in sending a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. The letter urges him to provide ample opportunities for the public to comment on any new clean water rule proposed and to ensure that any new rule be grounded in science and be as protective of vital water resources as the rule finalized by the Obama administration in 2015. We are confident that the law and science strongly support protecting all streams and wetlands, regardless of flow or size, from pollution or destruction. We will continue to resist any effort by the Trump administration, EPA or Congress, to gut pollution protections for our nation’s precious water resources.
To learn more, visit this page.
In January, the Lead Service Line Replacement (LSLR) Collaborative, a diverse coalition of 24 national public health, housing, environmental, water utility, labor, consumer, and state and local governmental organizations, released an online toolkit designed to help communities across the U.S. accelerate removal of lead service lines. Removing these lead pipes provides an opportunity to significantly reduce the risk of exposure to lead in drinking water.The Collaborative’s toolkit includes a roadmap for getting started, suggested practices to identify and remove lead service lines in a safe, equitable, and cost-effective manner, policies that federal and state leaders could adopt to support local efforts, and links to additional resources that may be helpful when developing local programs. For more information, visit this page.
Clean Water serves on the Steering Committee of the Collaborative, helped develop the online toolkit, and is spreading the word about how the Collaborative’s resources can help communities interested in accelerating full lead service line replacement.
In the wake of the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan and increased awareness of the health-impacts of even low level lead exposure, especially for children, there is interest in addressing sources of lead in water. Lead service lines, the pipes that bring water from the large water main that usually runs down a street, are one of those sources. Fully replacing them is no small matter, and the Collaborative came together to assist communities that are considering embarking upon a replacement program.
The value of a collaborative approach within a community is that stakeholders can work together to create a plan for replacing lead service lines and to tackle the financial and logistical challenges together.
National LSLR Collaborative members plan to identify case studies and pilot projects so that communities nationwide can learn from each other’s experience.
Getting lead out of water and addressing lead exposure from all sources requires increased local, state and federal action as well as continued public and policymaker education. Lead service line replacement programs can be one important step forward. For more information visit this page.