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Daily Action: Tell Trump's EPA -- Don't Muddy the Clean Water Act!

EPA comment page:

Sample comment (please do not cut and paste):
"My grandkids love the beach. I remember when I was a kid, we used to worry about polluted water at the beach because of all the junk the treatment plants were allowed to release into the ocean. The Clean Water Act changed all that. Please don't change protections that we all know have been working for all of us, just to make things a little easier and cheaper for a few."

Under orders from President Trump, the Environmental Protection Agency -- now led by notorious EPA opponent Scott Pruitt -- has begun a process of scouring its books for regulations it can eliminate. Doing so would threaten four decades of improvements to our air and water, and would exacerbate the threats we face from climate change -- all in the name of improving corporate bottom lines.

As part of its process, the EPA has issued a request for public comment and created the web page linked above. This comment period, which continues through May 15, offers an opportunity to defend the EPA's work from its own current administrators. The most effective comments will not be quick, snarky, or too similar to others (no cutting and pasting, please). They will be those that offer our personal perspectives on the importance of clean air and water -- tied to facts that express gratitude for the EPA's extraordinary successes through the years, and argue for its importance in ensuring a healthy environment in the years to come.

Commenters are not limited to a single submission! This weekend we encourage you to post as many times as possible on Clean Water issues; next week we'll focus on climate change. The following are points of argument that you might recast in your own words:

  • The work of the EPA is vital to the health and well-being of life on the planet and human beings, and provides a major economic boost to world societies and the US. Its studies, regulations, and mitigation procedures make us a healthier, more productive and economically efficient society. We need the EPA to have more resources, not have them cut by the Trump Administration.
  • Since its inception in 1970, the EPA has:
    • cleaned pollution from numerous rivers
    • kept toxins out of drinking water and household products
    • removed CFCs from aerosols
    • saved numerous birds from extinction, including the Bald Eagle, by banning DDT
    • cut brain damage-causing lead from gasoline
    • cleaned up toxic waste sites around the nation
    • improved the quality of the air we breathe.

      If we roll back EPA protections, we risk going back to times like these:
  • Cuyahoga River in Ohio catching fire in 1969  
  • Excessive levels of phosphorus in Lake Erie causing massive die-offs, leading to the slogan “Lake Erie is Dead”  
  • Major problems with acid rain; under the Clean Air Act's regulations, since the 1990s, SO2 emissions have dropped 40%, and according to the Pacific Research Institute, acid rain levels have dropped 65% since 1976.
  • The Bald Eagle was threatened with extinction until Rachel Carson’s research led to to the banning of DDT
  • Ozone levels in the atmosphere, heightened due to the proliferation of chlorofluorocarbons, were expected to cause massive increases in skin cancer rates. Thanks to an international effort to phase out CFCs, the ozone hole is now all but closed.


  1. Lead Content in Drinking Water. The EPA is responsible for enforcing the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet millions of Americans could be drinking contaminated water due to failures to test, or failures to treat our water. Some locations in California, for instance, have lead levels worse than Flint, MI. The costs of treating children exposed to toxic chemicals far exceeds any savings gained by gutting these protections. Additionally, California oil operators have been injecting toxic wastewater into aquifers that should be protected. We need to step up enforcement, not relax it. (Sierra Club) Source:

  2. Wastewater Treatment. Since the Clean Water Act (CWA) was enacted in the early 1970s, population growth in Southern California has exploded -- while the quality of water from wastewater treatment plants that discharge directly to the ocean has greatly improved. In 1972, the four largest treatment plants in Southern California were discharging 340 millions gallons per year of primary treated effluent (that is, wastewater with only some solids removed). By 2008, almost the same amount of effluent was discharged -- but now it's mostly treated, to secondary (80%) or advanced primary (20%) standards.  The result: much cleaner ocean water, despite a higher population, due to Clean Water Act regulations. Clearly a win-win for communities that depend on fishing, tourism, and ocean sports.  (IndivisibleSB) Source:

  3. Clean Drinking Water.  The Clean Water Act prevents industrial and municipal sewage treatment plants from discharging contaminants into waterways used for drinking, fishing, agriculture and swimming. Thanks to the Clean Water Act,  90% of Americans drink water that meets all requirements all of the time (source: EPA CWA 40th Anniversary blog), and major waterways have returned to health from being contaminated by untreated municipal and industrial wastes. (Adapted from IndivisibleBerkeley) Source:

  4. Successes. Before the Clean Water Act became law in 1972, Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River caught fire and the Boston Harbor was known as “the dirtiest in America.” Both of these waterways have since been cleaned up. Here in California, the CWA was essential in protecting Monterey Bay, which is known for its diversity of wildlife. (IndivisibleSB) Source:

  5. Keeping Trash out of our Water. The Clean Water Act provides regulatory tools for states and communities to address aquatic trash. These tools include trash TMDLs and stormwater permits, as well as trash-capture technologies that physically trap aquatic trash in stormwater systems, rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal areas across the country.” (EPA) Source:

  6. Keeping our Beaches Clean. We love our beaches in Southern California, and tourists love our beaches too. In 2000, the Beach Act was added to the Clean Water Act. It provides funding for monitoring pathogens in the water, so that we can feel confident that we are not endangering our health by swimming at the beach. It is important that families feel safe when they visit US beaches. (IndivisibleSB) Source: