President Donald Trump is bad news for the environment. He has called climate change a Chinese hoax to secure an unfair trade advantage over America and appointed climate change denier Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a man who is hellbent on destroying former President Obama’s environmental legacy. Now Trump wants changes to environmental protection legislation that will prevent over one-third of American citizens from having access to clean drinking water.
117 million American citizens get some of their clean drinking water from small streams and rivers, while 72 million people get at least half their water from such sources. These small waterways are currently protected from pollution by the Clean Water Act but last week Trump ordered Scott Pruitt to rescind or revise the Clean Water Rule or replace it with something else.
This is another example of Trump’s disregard for normal people in favor of big business. Industry and agribusinesses have been pushing for a roll back on the Clean Water Act for years as it increases their overhead costs because they have to ensure they do not pollute rivers and streams, in accordance with the law.
Some of the biggest culprits are industrial crop farmers who use dangerous nitrates in their fertilizers. These fertilizers, once sprayed, seep into the ground and run into rivers and streams, poisoning those who drink it. They also unintentionally fertilize algae, which grows and depletes vast amounts of oxygen, creating “dead zones” in rivers and lakes. Another big offender is the shale gas industry, which extracts oil through fracking. After years of oil bosses and politicians saying it doesn’t, it turns out that fracking does indeed pollute drinking water. You can find videos online of people literally lighting their tap water on fire as a result of this practice.
It seems that these industries have found in Trump someone they can do business with at the expense of public health and safety. Trump might think he can get away with polluting small streams while leaving big rivers clean, but it doesn’t work like that. Rivers are fed by the thousands of small streams that feed into them; polluted streams mean polluted rivers.
This is a disaster waiting to happen. There have already been clean water scandals in recent years and months such as the Flint water crisis, and that was with the Clean Water Act. If the Clean Water Act is repealed we will see more cases like this across America. Such crises will also be exacerbated if the Republicans succeed in getting rid of Obamacare as many of those affected will not be able to afford the healthcare required.
When people start dying as a result of contaminated water America will know exactly who to blame.
Here is a graph that shows which states use streams for their water sources the most, courtesy of EWG