Water ‘Too Thick to Drink, Too Thin to Plow’
Trump administration officials spin a fantasy that they value a clean environment, but then they deride the legal standards that keep our air and water clean as “job-killing regulations.” The truth is this: The safeguards we all depend on to protect our air, water and health come in the form of government regulations.
(The truth is also that these environmental regulations produce far more benefits than costs and actually create jobs—but that’s another story.)
Most Americans today don’t have to deal with the kind of rampant pollution that was poisoning our air and water 45 years ago because we’ve created strong federal laws requiring the EPA to issue regulations to stop the contamination.
Before Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972 and required the EPA to issue a host of new rules under the law, a patchwork of ineffective state regulations had allowed America’s waterways to become a dumping ground for sewage and industrial waste.
According to a report from a group of EPA alumni, protective guidelines set by the EPA over the past 40 years have resulted in the removal of 702 billion pounds of pollutants from our nation’s waters.
Most sewer systems now remove 85 percent of pollutants from wastewater, as opposed to in 1972, when half of the country was served by sewer systems that only removed 30 percent of contaminants.
In the first 20 years after the passage of the Clean Air Act, the law prevented more than 200,000 premature deaths and 18 million cases of respiratory illness in children alone.
We haven’t solved all our country’s pollution problems, but the lesson is clear: Without strong federal safeguards, polluters have the upper hand and the public pays the price.
Now President Trump wants to tip the scales even more in favor of polluters.
The Trump administration does not have some magical ability to protect communities without regulations.