Congress and the AdministrationFighting for Commonsense Federal Policy to Protect Water and Public Health
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Protecting Streams and Wetlands
The Trump administration took action today to weaken key parts of the Clean Water Act. The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers agencies jointly proposed exempting polluters from important programs that prevent and clean up water pollution, by removing protections from certain streams,wetlands, and other water bodies. This Dirty Water Rule would wipe out safeguards for water bodies that provide drinking water to tens of millions of people, including vulnerable populations such as children, and for wetlands that filter pollution and protect our communities from flooding.For more than 45 years, the Clean Water Act has helped work toward a time when all water bodies are safe for swimming and fishing, and when drinking water supplies are protected from pollution. Now the Trump administration is moving backwards. The members of the Clean Water for All Campaign vigorously oppose this reckless plan and are working to stop this action. Learn more here.
Toxic Power Plants
EPA, at the request of industry, started the process of rolling back important pollution standards for wastewater from coal-fired power plants in 2017. In November 2019, EPA released a formal proposal and opened a 60 day public comment period (November 21, 2019 — January 21, 2020)
In 2015, EPA finalized the power plant waste water rule (Steam ELG rule) that, once implemented, would eliminate 1.4 billion pounds of harmful pollutants from being dumped into our waterways each year from coal-fired and other steam electric power plants. This rule was much-needed, as the standards had not been updated in over 30 years, allowing power plants to pass the cost and burden of cleaning up their toxic mess onto downstream communities. Coal-fired power plants are by far the number one source of toxic water pollution in the country, dumping heavy metals like arsenic, lead, mercury, and other harmful chemicals into our rivers, lakes, and bays. Many of these pollutants are known carcinogens and neurotoxins that have serious health impacts, especially for children. Even though the negative health impacts of these toxins are well known and it would cost industry very little to comply with a rule to clean them up, EPA has agreed to an industry petition to delay and reconsider these important standards. EPA has already delayed the standards and is now in the process of further weakening the rule for the most toxic sources of power plant pollution, ignoring concerns from the public and environmental and health groups. This rollback is nothing more than a politically-motivated giveaway to industry – check back here for updates on how you can tell the Administration you do not support this attack on public health protections!
State Revolving Funds
The Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) are federal and state partnership programs that match federal and state funds in low interest loan programs to finance water projects. Since its establishment in 1987, the CWSRF, through state administered programs, has provided $118 billion to support more than 38,000 loans. This funding has enabled communities to protect and better manage their water resources including:
- constructing municipal wastewater facilities,
- control nonpoint sources of pollution,
- building decentralized wastewater treatment systems,
- creating green infrastructure projects,
- protecting estuaries, and
- funding other water quality projects.
The DWSRF, established in 1996, has provided more than $32 billion to water systems through more than 12,800 loan and grant agreements. These agreements have enabled water systems to:
- improve drinking water treatment,
- fix leaky or old pipes,
- improve sources of water supply,
- replace or construct water storage tanks,
- other infrastructure projects needed to protect public health.
Together, the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds are the most significant source of federal funding for water infrastructure projects. Communities and water quality benefit when we invest in smart and sustainable infrastructure projects. Re-authorizing and increasing funding levels for both SRF programs is vital to improving water quality and protecting communities across the country.