The administration is refusing to protect Americans from cancer-causing chemicals in the nation's water supply.
In a move described as "absolutely unconscionable," the Trump administration is reportedly refusing to set limits on two toxic chemicals linked to serious diseases like cancer, potentially exposing more than 110 million Americans to contaminated drinking water.
Citing two sources familiar with the matter, Politico reports that Andrew Wheeler, the acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has signed off on an unreleased draft plan that will let the chemicals remain unregulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The two chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, have been used for decades by manufacturing plants and on military bases, and are present in everyday products like Teflon-coated cookware, fabric protectors, and firefighting foam. They have also been found in the bloodstreams of an estimated 96 percent to 98 percent of Americans.
Researchers have detected dangerously high levels of PFOA and PFOS in at least 40 states, putting an estimated 110 million Americans at risk of adverse effects, including cancer, thyroid diseases, pregnancy complications, and other serious health problems.
Because of their widespread use, the toxic pollutants have contaminated groundwater near hundreds of military bases and chemical plants across the country. As a result, any attempt to regulate the chemicals would leave companies like 3M, as well as the Defense Department, on the hook for billions of dollars in cleanup efforts.
So instead of setting a legal limit under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, Wheeler is refusing to move forward with any type of regulation, meaning that "utilities will face no federal requirements for testing for and removing the chemicals from drinking water supplies," according to Politico.
"It is absolutely unconscionable for the Trump administration to refuse to even start the process of setting a limit on these poisonous chemicals," said Erik Olson of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Olson called the move "a total abdication of EPA's role in protecting the American people."
But with industry insiders calling the shots at Trump's EPA, the health and safety of Americans are increasingly taking a backseat to companies' bottom lines.
Last year, the EPA blocked the release of a federal study showing that PFOA and PFOS pose a serious risk to human health at much lower levels than previously thought.
Typically, such findings would be released as quickly as possible so they could be used to set new safety standards and inform new policies to protect the health of the American public. But not in the Trump administration.
Fearing a "public relations nightmare," the White House and the EPA devised a scheme to suppress the findings to avoid having to do anything about the nationwide public health threat.
And now, more than eight months later, they're still refusing to take action — leaving millions of Americans at risk of consuming dangerously high levels of the toxic chemicals.
"Sadly, it's no surprise the Trump administration is failing to protect Americans from these dangerous chemicals," Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter said in a statement. "This administration prioritizes corporate profits over public safety, pure and simple."
While the cost of the Trump administration's war on science will likely never be known, one thing is already quite clear: The American people will be paying for it.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.