The Trump administration has unveiled a proposal to weaken another clean water regulation that was put into place by the Obama administration:
The Trump administration is moving forward with a significant rollback of an Obama-era clean water regulation that has become a rallying cry for farmers and property-rights activists opposed to federal overreach.
The new proposal, unveiled Tuesday morning by acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and other administration officials, would ease Washington’s oversight of small bodies of water, undoing a regulation President Donald Trump has called “a massive power grab.”
The new rule would replace an Obama administration regulation, known as the “Waters of the United States” rule that expanded federal protections to smaller rivers and streams.
Environmental advocates are understandably upset, and are warning about the effects this could have on our tap water:
Environmental advocates warn the proposed rule could remove pollution and development protections from most U.S. waterways and pose far-reaching effects on the safety of the nation’s tap water for more than 100 million Americans.
“Even a child understands that small streams flow into large streams and lakes – which provide drinking water for so many Americans,” said Craig Cox, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources for the Environmental Working Group. “By removing safeguards and allowing industry to dump pollutants into these water sources, Trump’s EPA is ensuring more contamination challenges for utilities and dirtier water for their customers.”
But, it isn’t just tap water that could be affected by polluted water. The food we eat is also susceptible to contaminated water. In recent months, an E. coli outbreak that occurred in romaine lettuce grown near Yuma, Arizona looks to have been caused by contaminated water:
The culprit turned out to be E. coli, a powerful pathogen that had contaminated romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona, and distributed nationwide. At least 210 people in 36 states were sickened. Five died and 27 suffered kidney failure. The same strain of E. coli that sickened them was detected in a Yuma canal used to irrigate some crops.
A big reason why the E. coli outbreak occurred is because growers aren’t currently required to test the water they use to irrigate crops:
For more than a decade, it’s been clear that there’s a gaping hole in American food safety: Growers aren’t required to test their irrigation water for pathogens such as E. coli. As a result, contaminated water can end up on fruits and vegetables.
Growers aren’t currently required to test the water they use to irrigate crops because the Trump administration shelved an Obama rule that would have required them to do so:
After several high-profile disease outbreaks linked to food, Congress in 2011 ordered a fix, and produce growers this year would have begun testing their water under rules crafted by the Obama administration’s Food and Drug Administration.
But six months before people were sickened by the contaminated romaine, President Donald Trump’s FDA – responding to pressure from the farm industry and Trump’s order to eliminate regulations – shelved the water-testing rules for at least four years.
Regulations are not just onerous rules put into place to annoy businessmen and farmers. Regulations are protections for people. When the Trump administration weakens regulations, the Trump administration is weakening protections for people, protections that could prevent people from getting sick and dying.