As a nurse, I see every day how important our environment is to our physical and mental wellbeing. I also know that common sense safeguards should be in place to protect our communities from harmful pollutants. I never thought I would have to say something like this, but coal-fired power plants should not be able to freely dump arsenic, lead, mercury, and other toxic chemicals into our communities’ water.
Despite how common sense this sounds, the Trump administration just inexplicably released a rule that ignores science and would allow them to do just that. This rollback of pollution standards for these plants gives them a free pass to pollute waterways across the country — despite the fact that coal-fired power plants are already the largest source of toxic wastewater discharges.
We know that there is absolutely no safe level of lead in drinking water and that these power plants are making our communities less safe. And for Michigan’s Black and brown communities, who already have disproportionate levels of pollution from institutional environmental racism, the need to protect clean water is simply a matter of life and death. A people-focused approach would be to rein in these polluters, not let them do as they please with the health of our communities.
Even worse, EPA failed to meaningfully engage with the public on their rollback — failing our most vulnerable communities who will face the brunt of this dangerous action. Moving forward like this, practically under the cover of darkness in the middle of a pandemic, shows just how threatening this rule is to our public health. The administration knows the rule is bogus so they had to resort to tricks to get it done.
This rule is beyond unacceptable and is yet another notch in the belt for the industries that want to dismantle the Clean Water Act. The Trump administration has demonstrated yet again that their priority is making it easier for corporations to pollute our water — not even a pandemic can stop them.
–Lynn McDaniels is a retired nurse in the United States Air Force Reserve and is currently working with the Oakland County Health Division as Supervisor for COVID-19 Contact Tracing. Lynn received her BSN from Mercy College of Detroit, her MSN from Wayne State University and is a Board Certified Public Health Clinical Nurse Specialist.–