Industrial Sludge Has No Place in America’s Drinking Water, Trump Trying to Make it Commonplace

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Industrial Sludge Has No Place in America’s Drinking Water, Trump Trying to Make it Commonplace

WASHINGTON - The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put a hold on a polluter backed case against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) clean water protections that limited toxic wastewater discharges from coal plants. The hold comes after a slew of motions from Donald Trump’s EPA Administrator seeking to pause litigation on important clean air and water protections in order to “review” them, which is widely seen by public health advocates, environmental organizations, and environmental justice groups as a ploy to weaken or scrap them.

The clean water protections that were held today, formally known as the Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELG), had previously not been updated in three decades. Before the new protections went into effect, previous standards allowed coal-fired power plants to release billions of pounds of contaminated wastewater directly into our rivers, lakes, and bays every year. Nearly 40 percent of all coal plants discharge toxic pollution within five miles of a downstream community’s drinking water intake.

Trump’s decision to hold, and possibly scrap, the new clean water protections could have grave consequences for communities living near coal plants - which dump toxic heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, and lead into local water supplies. These toxic heavy metals can cause a host of developmental issues in children and provide serious health risks to pregnant women. The health risks are what prompted the EPA decision to institute the stronger clean water safeguards that Trump is seeking to “review” and possibly scrap.

Earthjustice is representing Sierra Club in defense of the stronger clean water protections, along with Waterkeeper Alliance, Environmental Integrity Project, and Clean Water Action.

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In response to the court’s decision today, Dalal Aboulhosn, Sierra Club’s Deputy Legislative Director for Land and Water, released the following statement:

“Industrial waste has no place in any family’s drinking water and today’s court decision has put Donald Trump closer to making it commonplace. Over the course of his first 100 days, it seems his only objective in office is to hand our common sense clean air and water protections over to the very people they were created to guard against. 

“Trump’s repeated efforts to undermine bedrock clean water laws are unconscionable when you consider the health consequences on families living near coal plants. A mother should never have to think twice about the water she uses in her coffee or puts into her child’s cup, but with these rollbacks, Trump can cause serious concern in communities with a history of water problems. We will fight every inch of his and his EPA Administrators attempts to weaken what the Clean Water Act was created for and we are sure communities across America will do the same.”

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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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