Category Archives: Clean Water Act

Forever-Chemicals Tap Water  

Throughout the history of Western Civilization there are times, but only on rare occasions, when people en masse feel compelled to run into the streets, similar to the storming of the Bastille 1789, screaming at the top of their lungs: “Stop the Madness!”

Now is one of those times, as only recently Feb 2020 the Trump administration signed a regulation to remove America’s water resources from federal protection. This is the largest rollback of the Clean Water Act since passage into law in 1972. No other administration over the past 50 years has removed federal control over certain key aspects of the all-important landmark legislation known as the Clean Water Act.

“This will be the biggest loss of clean water protection the country has ever seen,” according to the Southern Environmental Law Center.

This is not just undoing the Obama rule. This is stripping away protections that were put in place in the ’70s and ’80s that Americans have relied on for their health.1

Trump’s disgusting and kinda creepy reversal of one of America’s longest-standing policies protecting the public from environmental muck, crud, slime, sludge, oozing glop and most significantly “manmade chemicals” affects every citizen all across the land. It goes right to the heart of the morality of the country.

Still, many Americans are already drinking chemically laced water, aka: Forever-Chemicals, straight out of the tap, yet they don’t know.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Washington, DC, for the first time: Toxic fluorinated chemicals, known as PFAS (a family of manmade Forever Chemicals – lasting forever in the environment) have been discovered in drinking water in dozens of cities, including the major metropolitan areas of America. These studies have not previously been reported to the public at large.

Accordingly, the number of Americans exposed to toxic chemicals has been drastically underestimated in prior studies by both the EPA and by EWG’s own research. This is not good news.

Making matters more challenging, recent tests exposed multiples of festering problems that include newly discovered toxic chemicals

… that are not commonly tested for presence in drinking water.2

In other words, testing for drinking water toxicity has been deficient for years. By all appearances, governmental rules and regulations should be greatly enhanced and expanded, not diminished or abolished, as has been the case over the past couple of years.

America’s president (Trump) comically boasts: “America is the cleanest. Our air is the cleanest. Our water is the cleanest in the world.” Trump’s misinformed, deeply disturbing blatant lying proves that he is the most dangerous uninformed ill-equipped president of all time.

Not only that, across the board, Trump has reversed decades of solid, established policies designed to safeguard U.S. citizens. Yes, he actually abolishes policies that protect the health of the very same voters who belly up, squeezing into tiny voting booths, to blindly vote for him. It’s horrific on the scale of Greek tragedies where the main character is eventually brought to ruin as a consequence of: (1) tragic character flaws, (2) moral weakness and (3) inability to cope. Trump scores on all counts.

Only recently, the self-congratulatory tragi-comic Trump pounded his chest for being the first president to successfully open up drilling to America’s most pristine wildlife refuge, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). For decades, Congress steadfastly forbade drilling on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Anybody with the slightest sensibility and moral courage would fight tooth and nail to prevent despoiling ANWR, which Trump flailed while admitting he’d never heard of ANWR, but he had no compunction whatsoever about removing restrictions for drilling and mining and/or private development, even though he’d never heard of ANWR. Presidential?

Trump’s lack of sensitivity, awareness, consciousness borders on the absurd and exposes a deep level of stupidity or maybe just plain ole ignorance that is seldom, if ever, exposed in the highest echelons of political office.

And, even worse, much-much worse, without giving a second thought, “congressional Trumpers” voted to reverse the long-standing policy of protecting America’s most pristine wilderness. Members of Congress achieved it via attachment to an “unrelated” 2017 tax bill, which is the weasel-out methodology for underhandedly killing policies that Americans are sensitive about. Hands down, ANWR is one of those.

Meanwhile, as for toxic water, EWG’s testing found 44 locations in 31 states; all but one had detectable PFAS in public drinking water with some of the highest levels found in Miami, Philadelphia, New Orleans, northern NJ, and suburbs of NYC.

Not only that, it gets worse, as 34 locations that tested positive for PFAS toxic contamination had not been previously reported to the public by the EPA or by state environmental agencies.

Coincidentally, but not at all surprising since toxic chemicals disrupt, alter, and destroy healthy human cells, the number of Americans (150,000,000) diagnosed with chronic illness in America is off the charts.3

Along those same lines, it’s instructive to consider that the top three causes of death in 1900 were the infectious diseases pneumonia and flu, tuberculosis, and gastrointestinal infections. Chronic diseases were not prevalent. Antibiotics led to dramatic declines in those infectious diseases. Whereas today, it’s no longer infectious disease that kills, it’s chronic disease like heart disease and cancer as the leading causes of death which are not caused or spread person-to-person, not infectious, and not fixed with antibiotics.

By all appearances, humanity’s modern-day surge in chronic diseases is due to alteration/destruction of bodily cell structure, which brings to mind somber troublesome questions about life environments.

According to Earthjustice, a San Francisco-based nonprofit environmental law org:

Toxic chemicals known as PFAS are found in everyday products… They’re linked to cancer, and they’ve contaminated drinking water sources across the country.4

PFASs are chemical substances that don’t easily break down and persist in the human body, similar to ionizing radiation, where accumulation occurs over the years and leads to a series of chronic conditions in people, for example, cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Studies are just now starting to show links, connecting the dots for the first time, to chemical substances like PFAS to testicular cancer (every male’s biggest nightmare), kidney cancer, and endocrine disruption. Clearly, somebody somewhere should take responsibility for diligently cleaning up America’s water systems with more restrictive rules, not less enforcement.

Good news, bad news: The good news: PFASs have proven so toxic that manufacturers phased them out entirely by 2015, but (bad news) the contamination of water supplies is already a fait accompli, no turning back after decades of toxic exposure.

More bad news: Against the protests of 200 scientists, chemical companies have replaced older PFAS with new chemicals in the PFAS family called GenX, which unfortunately, act a lot like the old PFAS and may be equally dangerous. 5

Industrial release of PFAS is one major source of water contamination. For example, in 2016, researchers discovered “troubling levels of GenX in North Carolina’s Cape Fear River. The source was a PFAS manufacturing plant owned by The Chemours Company, a spin-off of DuPont.”5

PFASs also accumulate in the human body via food and food packaging, as discovered in a 2017 study when PFASs were found in 1/3rd of all fast food wrappers.

As for America’s Trump-crippled-EPA, more bad news: There are no PFAS listed on the EPA’s important “Toxics Release Inventory,” which is the primary tool for alerting communities across the country to toxic problems.

Not only that, and possibly making matters much worse (other than having Trump as president) on Feburary 14th, 2019 the EPA unveiled a long delayed Nationwide Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Action Plan.

However, the plan is too little, too late, and falls short of what is needed to protect communities from a class of chemicals that are polluting drinking water and air, while exposing families, particularly children, to a myriad of heath risks, including cancer.5

All of which highlights gross incompetence, carelessness and/or heartlessness via governmental regulatory agencies under leadership of the White House.

EPA was first alerted to the toxic drinking water problem 20 years ago but ever since has failed to set an enforceable nationwide legal limit. In 2016 (pre-Trump) the EPA issued a drinking water advisory of 70 ppt, whereas, in sharp controversial contrast, independent studies and labs say the recommended safe level for PFAS in drinking water should be 1 ppt, and certainly, absolutely not 70 ppt!

EWG has already mapped PFAS toxic contamination of drinking water or ground water in 1.400 sites in 49 states. Older EWG studies concluded that 110 million Americans were drinking toxic water, an estimate that is probably way too low based on the more recent findings.

All of which, not alarmingly, coincides with the aforementioned Rand Corp study indicating that 150,000,000 Americans have chronic illnesses, like Alzheimer’s, arthritis, asthma, cancer, COPD, Crohn disease, diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease, bipolar mood disorder, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.

Henceforth, by slashing environmental rules and regulations (ninety-five [95] so far according to the New York Times, as of December 21, 2019) the Trump administration is stimulating/enhancing the likelihood of a veritable outbreak of chronic illnesses, well beyond the current massive numbers; expect multiple (2-3) chronic illnesses per person to mushroom, creating a drug-infested nation full of Mad Hatters.

Postscript: The EPA’s outside scientific advisory board issued a negative draft report (December 2019) stating the Trump water rule proposals were “…in conflict with established science… and the objectives of the Clean Water Act.” The majority of those members of the advisory board are handpicked Trump appointees. Will they be fired?

Post-Postscript: “This will be the biggest loss of clean water protection the country has ever seen,” Southern Environmental Law Center lawyer Blan Holman told The New York Times. “This puts drinking water for millions of Americans at risk of contamination from unregulated pollution. This is not just undoing the Obama rule. This is stripping away protections that were put in place in the ’70s and ’80s that Americans have relied on for their health.”1

  1. EcoWatch, January 23, 2020.
  2. Environmental Working Group (EWG) Washington, DC.
  3. Rand Corporation 2017 Study – Chronic Conditions in America: Price and Prevalence.
  4. “Breaking Down Toxic PFAS”, Earthjustice, February 12, 2020.
  5. Earthjustice.

Trump Attacks America the Beautiful

Trump is the first president to take on America the Beautiful. He’s at war with America. This is not new news. Yet, it is worthy of further discussion.

Trump’s anti-establishmentarian credentials flaunted during the campaign to woo voters fed up with America’s decline, except for filthy rich, has lost its shine. He’s an establishment creature, not anti-establishment, in the neoliberal sense of supply-side economics, force-feeding the upper class so they’ll drop crumbs down below to the vast Middle/Poor Class, a new socio-economic class in America, the newest, largest class, supplanting the vast middle class of the 1950s-60s-70s.

Now that Trump has hoodwinked America’s Middle/Poor Class voters, he has turned his attention to a much larger issue, the destruction of America the Beautiful. With the exception of perfectly groomed golf courses, Trump hates environmental protectionism. He’s out to get it.

According to the Ocean Conservancy, as of March 5th: “Over the weekend, we learned that the Trump administration plans to gut NOAA’s budget by nearly $1 billion. These budget cuts aren’t just ‘trimming the fat’ they’re cutting straight to the bone.” Thus cutting back crucial communication between the health of the planet and the public, as satellite data, climate research, and coastal management are thrown into jeopardy.

Twenty-four hours earlier, massive cuts to the EPA were announced. Before the era of the EPA, magazines like Time ran stories about Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River on fire. It was 1969 and the Cuyahoga River was declared a fire hazard because of its oil-slickened feculent, grimy surface. It caught fire 13 times and thus served as a real life-real time sub-natural lobby for creation of the EPA in 1970 and then passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972. Today, the Cuyahoga is clean.

Metaphorically, the EPA is “Mr. Clean” America.

The Potomac, Lake Erie, cesspools, Chesapeake Bay, and Hudson River to name a few carried disease, filth, and reprehensible odors, a legacy of industry without restrictions within recent lifetimes.

Today, the EPA estimates that one-half of the country’s rivers and streams are “impaired waters,” which means no swimming, no fishing. The EPA’s 40-years remains a work-in-progress.

In the 1970s, downtown LA was a haze as smog smeared the entire city. Once again the EPA, aka Mr. Clean, saved the day, putting teeth into the Clean Air Act in the late 1970s, adding regulatory weight to mandate reduction of polluting cars, factories, mills, and utilities. Nobody else stood up to the chemical plants or steel mills or auto manufactures declaring: “We can’t breathe.” Back then America flirted with dystopia, hanging in the balance, until EPA stood up to polluters. Imagine the dystopian mess if the EPA never existed, no mandates, no regulations, no singular force with regulatory authority to monitor and enforce clean air. After all, back then it grew worse and worse until forced to clean up.

EPA made America great as the country was headed for darkness. Further to the point, the EPA’s record, in the face of horrendous industrial damage, is downright remarkable: “The EPA has facts to back it up. Since 1970, the agency has reduced the six most common air pollutants by more than 50 percent, reduced air toxins from large industrial sources by almost 70 percent, and eliminated the use of ozone-depleting chemicals And this progress was accomplished even as the country’s GDP tripled, energy consumption increased by 50 percent, and vehicle use nearly doubled”.1 No agency, nobody else has such a strong record of achievement.

Mr. Trump is horribly ill informed. He should increase the EPA’s budget, maybe double. The EPA saved America and made America Great! He will not remake America Great again without a strong, viable EPA. Rather, he’ll fall on his own sword if he implements deep cuts.

Additionally, the EPA was singularly instrumental in saving Americans $362 billion on utility bills since 1992 in partnership with the Dept. of Energy’s Energy Star Program, promoting creation of efficient product development. That’s amazing and worthy of tripling the EPA budget, not cutting back. It’s precisely programs like Energy Star that make America great!

It is still early, maybe too early, to fully understand what Trump’s administration will do, but early indicators are not positive, as anticipated by Richard L. Revesz, Lawrence King Professor of Law and dean emeritus, New York University School of Law:

President Donald Trump and newly confirmed EPA administrator Scott Pruitt appear poised to make sweeping environmental policy changes. But strong environmental regulations remain widely popular. Perhaps as a result, the Trump administration may take a subtle approach in attacking environmental rules. Pruitt and other administration officials appear interested in rewriting guidelines for regulatory analysis and they could cook the books so that environmental protections appear to have few or no benefits and exaggerated costs. The results would be sinister…2

A sinister attack on America the Beautiful is the likeliest course of action, easily accomplished, behind the scenes, a deathtrap for so much that is held so dear, presupposed, like breathable air and noncombustible waterways.

Making America Beautiful is what the EPA is all about, and it has earned its spurs. Demonizing its wonderful legacy will cast a very long very dark shadow.

  1. Andrew Small, “Before the EPA, Our Cities Looked Like This”, Climate Desk, Grist, March 4, 2017.
  2. Richard L. Revesz, A Subtle Attack on the Environment, US News March 2, 2017.