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Radical Republicans are already sabotaging the next president

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Former Vice President Joe Biden, photo by Marc Nozell

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Sarah Okeson
Sarah Okeson

The Trump EPA is trying to stack an advisory committee on drinking water to continue to help polluters and cost-conscious water utilities even if Trump loses in November.

The EPA is asking for nominations to fill five seats on the National Drinking Water Advisory Council for three-year terms that would start in December.

The council was created as part of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 signed by President Gerald Ford, but Tim Whitehouse, the executive director for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said the council has traditionally been weighted in favor of local utilities and industry. He said the council needs public health advocates.

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“They’re a very conservative group by nature even pre-Trump,” Whitehouse said.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is expected to appoint the new members. The council’s new appointments under Trump have included Alexandra Campbell-Ferrari who co-founded a nonprofit that works on water security. One of the nonprofit’s directors is Roger Martella, the former EPA general counsel under George W. Bush.

Another Trump EPA appointee is James Proctor II, the senior vice president and general counsel of McWane Inc. The Birmingham, Ala.-based company was prosecuted in 2009 for environmental crimes and pleaded guilty to nine felony charges of knowingly violating the Clean Water Act.

Under Obama, the council created a workgroup that adopted proposals to weaken the Lead and Copper Rule, published in 1991, which is supposed to minimize lead and copper in our nation’s drinking water. The current requirements under the Lead and Copper rule are so weak that they didn’t raise a concern about Flint, Mich. where more than 8,600 children were supplied lead-contaminated water for 18 months.

An estimated 15 million to 22 million people, or 5% to 7.5% of our nation’s population, drink water delivered through lead pipes. There are no safe levels of lead in drinking water. Low levels of exposure to lead in children are linked to hyperactivity, anemia, lower IQs, physical and learning disabilities and slowed growth.

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EPA scientists and experts were excluded from the workgroup. The council adopted recommendations designed by utility employees working with the American Water Works Association, an industry lobbying group. Water utilities did not want to pay for replacing lead pipes on private property.

The new rule would keep the lead concentration of more than 15 parts per billion, a level that doesn’t protect human health, as the level where utilities are required to address corrosion in water pipes. The new rule would also slow the rate of replacing lead pipes, cutting it in half, from 7% of lead pipes a year to 3% for each utility with lead levels over the action limit.

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2020 Election

US Rep. Dan Crenshaw calls expanding mail-in voting ‘playing with fire’ despite rarity of voter fraud

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U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Houston, doubled down on the claim that expanding voting by mail is not secure, saying it was like “playing with fire” in a conversation that aired Monday as part of the 2020 Texas Tribune Festival.

Republicans and President Donald Trump have repeatedly tried to sow doubt over the reliability of voting by mail, alleging it allows for widespread fraud.

During the interview with Politico’s Tim Alberta, Crenshaw raised concerns about voting practices in Pennsylvania and Nevada, falsely saying that Pennsylvania was sending unsolicited ballots to voters.

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2020 Election

These Florida Cuban-American voters are flipping their support from Trump to Biden: ‘I know what a dictator looks like’

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In recent weeks, there has been a great deal of reporting on President Donald Trump’s efforts to make inroads with Latino voters. But it’s important to note where most of those inroads have been made: Trump has generally fared much better among Cuban-Americans in Florida than among Mexican-Americans in western states or Puerto Ricans in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia. And journalist David Smiley, in an article published in the Miami Herald on September 21, stresses that Trump’s support among Cuban-Americans is by no means universal.

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2020 Election

Younger voters are most likely to have their absentee ballots rejected — here’s why

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As half or more of the 2020 presidential election's votes will be cast on mailed-out ballots, a new study on why absentee ballots were rejected in three urban California counties in 2018 reveals why young voters' ballots were rejected at triple the rate of all voters.

Nationally, it is well known that absentee ballots arriving after state deadlines, problems with a voter's signature on the return envelope not matching their voter registration, or a missing signature account for more than half of all rejected ballots, as the latest federal statistics affirm. But a new California Voter Foundation (CVF) study reveals the most likely causes behind those errors, especially for young voters.

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