Apparently not satisfied with doctoring videos to smear its political opponents, the Trump adminstration through its Environmental ‘Protection’ Agency is now forging ahead with a plan to doctor your drinking water, as a gift to the chemical industry.
The Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to raise the threshold for a chemical found in rocket fuel to triple the previous limit allowed in drinking water supplies. This is the first new drinking water rule introduced by the agency since the George W. Bush administration.
In the EPA’s latest move to weaken environmental and health protections, it released a notice on Thursday requesting public comment on its proposal to raise the maximum level allowed for the chemical perchlorate — which is linked to thyroid problems — to 56 micrograms per liter.
Raising the existing standard to an allowable 56 micrograms effectively triples the amount of perchlorate, a chemical oxidant found in rocket fuel, fireworks, matches and motor vehicle airbag inflators, than had previously been regarded as ‘safe’ by the EPA (prior to the transformation of that agency into a vehicle designed to poison rather protect our citizens). As reported by Kyla Mandel, writing for Think Progress, and according to the Natural Resources Defense Counsel (NRDC), this new recommendation is between 10 and 50 times higher than scientists recommend as “safe” for human consumption.
“This is enough to make you sick—literally,” Erik Olson, senior director for health and food at NRDC, said in a statement on the new proposed limits. “As a result, millions of Americans will be at risk of exposure to dangerous levels of this toxic chemical in their drinking water.”
Perchlorate, even in tiny doses, has been proven to inhibit thyroid function in human beings, particularly women, by interfering with the thyroid’s ability to process iodine, which the gland synthesizes to regulate metabolism and growth.
In addition to being found in rocket fuel, the chemical has contaminated groundwater in various parts of the country. Because they are often held responsible for the expensive cleanup of such contamination (since they caused it), chemical companies, defense contractors, and utilities have lobbied hard to raise the permissible levels of “allowable” perchlorate in the water we drink. If the allowable levels are raised, the urgency to clean up these poisons diminishes or disappears. This, of course, saves them millions of dollars in cleanup costs– and boost their profits accordingly.
“This is another Trump administration gift to polluters and water utilities that have lobbied to be off the hook for cleaning up the problem,” Olson said of the proposed change to perchlorate.
As Mandel points out, the EPA under Trump has become little more than a clearinghouse for whatever “wish list” the chemical and fossil fuel desire, with public health being relegated to a secondary concern. An example is Nancy Beck, who oversees the EPA’s toxic chemical unit. In 2009, Beck, who had also held a post at OMB during the George W. Bush administration, was determined by a House Committee to have deliberately slowed the progress of determining the extent which chemicals have contaminated the nation’s drinking water. This malevolent disregard of human safety had been going on for several years at that point, at the behest of both the chemical industry and Department of Defense. From the NRDC’s website, dated 2005:
On January 10, a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel released a report evaluating the potential health threats posed by perchlorate, a toxic rocket fuel ingredient. Documents obtained from a series of Freedom of Information Act requests and lawsuits against the White House, Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency indicate that the panel was subjected to massive pressure to downplay the hazards of the chemical. This behind-the-scenes campaign included extraordinary involvement by White House and DOD staff to limit the scope of the NAS panel’s inquiry and select the panelists, and collaboration among the White House, Pentagon and defense contractors to influence the panel.
Prior to being recruited by Trump’s EPA under (former) director Scott Pruitt, Beck worked as a lobbyist for the “American Chemistry Council,” the chemical manufacturer’s lobbying group. Upon her arrival she immediately set upon re-writing chemical pollutant standards “word for word” as dictated by the chemical industry. As the New York Times reported at that time:
When the time came for the agency to implement a bipartisan overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act passed in the last year of the Obama administration, the Times wrote, she pressed for industry-friendly changes that undermined the whole program:
Dr. Beck then spent her first weeks on the job pressing agency staff to rewrite the standards to reflect, in some cases, word for word, the chemical industry’s proposed changes, three staff members involved in the effort said.
Beck is one among hundreds of similar industry-selected appointees at EPA and the Department of the Interior, agencies funded by taxpayers with the expectation that they will work for our interests. Under the Trump regime, however, all of them merely share the common goal of giving the chemical and fossil fuel industries whatever they want, and they are willing to put the health of our nation’s citizens at risk in order to do that.
The American people deserve to know who Trump has put in charge of their lives and health.