Commentary, Trump Administration

The best editorial of the weekend: Save us from Trump’s environmental neglect

In case you missed it yesterday, be sure to check out the Sunday editorial in the Greensboro New & Record.

It’s simply entitled called “Troubled waters,” and in it , the authors rightfully excoriate the Trump administration for its criminal negligence in dealing with water pollution from so-called “forever chemicals.” (Click here to read Lisa Sorg’s special 2019 report on the Trump administration’s destructive assault on the “Waters of the United States” rule.)

Even as the Trump administration beats a disturbing retreat on environmental protections, tap water across the United States is contaminated to a much higher degree than previously known, contends a new report from the Environmental Working Group.

“Forever chemicals,” also known as perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are resistant to breaking down and may affect hundreds of millions of Americans. Some of the chemicals classified as PFAS may cause cancer, liver damage, low birth weight and other health problems.

The editorial points out that the researchers took water sample from 44 places in 31 states and found the highest contamination rate in Brunswick County, NC.

The EPA has known about the contamination for 19 years, Reuters reported. In 2018, the White House and the EPA tried to suppress a draft report from an office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that said the risk level for exposure to the chemicals should be up to 10 times lower than the EPA’s threshold.

Coincidentally, when the U.S. House recently passed the PFAS Action Act, requiring the EPA to designate all PFAS as hazardous substances within a year, Mark Walker of Greensboro didn’t vote. Reps. Virginia Foxx and Ted Budd voted no.

Meanwhile, the editorial concludes, Trump’s EPA is trying to lower protections in this area by weakening standards for pollution in wetlands and smaller waterways — a change that even a mostly Trump-appointed science board  opposes.

As the editorial rightfully notes in conclusion:

As for PFAS, at some point the EPA needs to establish a firm limit, not just recommendations. State officials, as well as our senators and representatives, should confront this problem with the urgency it deserves.

Click here to read the entire editorial.

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