Trump administration perpetuating 'massive' clean water issues, says advocate

Environmental advocate Monica Medina argued Tuesday that the Trump administration’s broad deregulatory efforts are perpetuating a lack of clean water in parts of the U.S., particularly in the Great Lakes region.

Medina, the founder and publisher of the environmental newsletter Our Daily Planet who previously served in the Obama administration, pointed to the Trump administration's attempts to roll back former President Obama's controversial water pollution regulation and other moves.

"We should be worried about all of the health and safety rules that have been rolled back," Medina told Hill.TV correspondent Jamal Simmons on “Rising.”

Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA looks to other statutes to expand scope of coming 'secret science' rule EPA ordered to reconsider New York efforts to tame downwind pollution OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA declines to tighten smog standards amid pressure from green groups | Democrats split on Trump plan to use development funds for nuclear projects| Russian mining giant reports another fuel spill in Arctic MORE tried to repeal Obama's Clean Water Rule, also known as Waters of the United States (WOTUS), early this year.

Pruitt argued that the regulation, which was added to clarify which small streams or wetlands fell under federal clean water protections, gave the federal government power over too much land. In August, a federal judge in South Carolina issued a nationwide injunction against the EPA's move and reinstated the protection.

Medina noted that a lack of clean water poses a much larger environmental issue for lawmakers to tackle.

“It’s so fundamental that you can’t really parse it down to one rancher or one farmer but when you look at the clean water problems in this country, they’re massive,” Medina said.

She pointed to the Great Lakes region as an example after the crisis in Flint, Mich., put a renewed focus on the need for clean water in the U.S.

The city garnered national attention after lead seeped into the city’s drinking water, prompting Obama to later declare a federal state of emergency.

In April, nearly three years after the incident first came to light, state officials declared that the water in Flint was safe to drink.

Medina noted that while the subject of clean water has received less national attention recently, it continues to pose an issue for many communities.

A 2017 study by the Natural Resource Defense Council found that there was a one-in-four chance one's tap water was either not safe for drinking or not properly monitored.

“When you look at the problems we’re facing — they’re new, they’re not covered by the rules that were originally promulgated under the Clean Water Act forty years ago, but they’re massive now and we need to get after them because they’re really impacting tourism,” Medina said, referencing the law first enacted in 1972 regulating the discharge of pollutants into the nation’s waters, including lakes, rivers, streams and coastal areas.

Medina argued that environmental regulations don’t hurt the economy or hurt competition, saying it isn’t an “either-or" issue.

“We can actually do things in a way that benefits the economy and benefits our health,” she said.

— Tess Bonn