The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Trump's EPA Solicits Ideas on How Polluters Can Attack Water Protections

 Public Can Push Back at May 2 ‘Listening Session'


The Trump administration is holding a meeting next week to look for ways to let polluters dump more toxic contaminants into the nation's drinking water. Americans who want clean water can also try to speak up, but the opportunity for public input is severely restricted.

An Environmental Protection Agency email and website post announced that under an executive order from President Trump, the EPA is seeking "input on existing regulations that could be repealed, replaced or modified to make them less burdensome." Trump and EPA chief Scott Pruitt have already taken radical steps to roll back environmental protections, but EWG President Ken Cook said this initiative opens the door for extreme proposals that will benefit water polluters and endanger public health.

"This is the official kickoff of the Trump administration's all-out assault on the safety and integrity of the nation's drinking water supply," said Cook. "Pruitt and Trump have cast aside policies to reduce childhood asthma attacks from pollution-spewing coal-fired power plants, and blocked plans to reduce exposure from a pesticide that can harm kids' brains. Now they're targeting programs that keep pollution out of our tap water."

On Tuesday, May 2, the EPA Office of Water will host a so-called public listening session by telephone and web conferencing "to obtain additional feedback on water regulatory actions." People who want to give input must pre-register for what the EPA says are randomly selected spots on one of 150 phone lines set aside to call in. About half of these participants will get a chance to speak for one to two minutes each.

Conspicuous by its absence is any indication that the EPA also wants to hear from Americans who resist the administration's assault on clean drinking water.

"What EPA should be doing is holding nationwide town halls to hear from the millions of Americans who don't have access to safe and affordable drinking water," said Cook. "But frankly, if anyone believes Scott Pruitt would side with Americans calling for strong drinking water safeguards, it's time to land the spaceship and return to Earth. Pruitt came into the agency supported by big polluters and he is looking for every possible way to help them."

A nationwide survey by Gallup conducted last month found that 63 percent of Americans are "worried a great deal about pollution of drinking water" - the most in 17 years. After the election, but before being sworn into office, President Trump promised "crystal clear, clean drinking water" for the American people.

But since taking office, Trump and his administration have taken extraordinary steps to roll back water quality protections, including abolishing the Clean Water Rule, which will put drinking water sources for roughly 117 million Americans at risk of industrial and agriculture pollution.

Citizens can pre-register for a shot at the phone lines, or to be one of 1,000 people allowed to listen in online. The EPA is also accepting written comments on the rollback plan until May 15.

The Environmental Working Group is a community 30 million strong, working to protect our environmental health by changing industry standards.

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