EPA wants to make it easier for polluters to poison our nation’s water.
Yet again, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is out to please his industry allies at the expense of public health and the environment. His latest proposal is a loophole in Clean Water Act coverage that would remove regulations for pollution flowing through groundwater into lakes, rivers, and bays. The EPA is accepting comments until May 21st on this proposal.
Current law requires polluters to be held accountable when chemicals or other pollutants they dump travel through groundwater into rivers, lakes, or bays. Without that accountability, polluters could avoid being responsible for their discharge by dumping it next to a water body instead of directly into the water. Clearly, these discharges must be regulated to protect public waters and people’s health, but the EPA is considering a change that would eviscerate the current regulations and leave our waterways and communities exposed to dangerous contamination.
In Belton, South Carolina, Savannah Riverkeeper has been working for years to force Kinder Morgan to clean up a 2014 pipeline spill that sent over 350,000 gallons of gas and diesel into groundwater that flows to the Savannah River. This is the kind of discharge the EPA wants to exempt from the Clean Water Act.
This is an inexcusable attempt to weaken critical public protections. Submit a public comment today and tell EPA to stop this attempt to eviscerate the Clean Water Act and instead work to uphold its mission to protect communities from harmful water pollution.
I am writing to express my opposition to EPA’s proposed revision to the applicability of the Clean Water Act to pollutants that travel to surface water via groundwater. The Clean Water Act clearly applies to these discharges, and to find otherwise would massively weaken clean water protections. The EPA and states have required permits for this type of pollution for decades.
If EPA were to find that discharges that travel via groundwater to surface waters are not regulated under the Clean Water Act, many currently known sources of water pollution would remain unaddressed. Furthermore, this would perversely incentivize companies to change their operations to release pollutants into the ground near waterbodies as a way to avoid Clean Water Act regulation and liability.
The current widespread instances of groundwater contamination and examples of pollutants entering surface water via groundwater demonstrates that we already lack adequate regulation over these discharges. Changing EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Water Act would lead to far more contamination of groundwater and surface water. The Clean Water Act was intended to clean up the nation’s waterways, and EPA’s mission is to protect human health and the environment. Exempting discharges of pollutants that travel via groundwater would drastically undermine both of these missions.