Sunday, September 18, 2016

Under President Trump, Flint water crises could be commonplace

I suggest reading the whole article.

Lucia Graves
Sept. 16, 2016

When Donald Trump went to Flint, Michigan, on Wednesday in his first visit to the city since lead was detected in the water in 2014, he began, inappropriately enough, with a joke.

“It used to be cars were made in Flint, and you couldn’t drink the water in Mexico. Now, the cars are made in Mexico and you can’t drink the water in Flint,” Trump said.

In his appearance at a Methodist church Wednesday, Trump added that the lead poisoning “would have never happened if I were president”. On the contrary: under a president Trump, what happened in Flint could happen everywhere. It would be the inevitable outcome of what is quite possibly the only Trump policy we can be sure of: radical deregulation.

Look at what happened in Flint in the 1980s: when nearly all of General Motors’ plants in the city were either deemed to be noncompliant or flagged for potential noncompliance with EPA regulations, GM started closing its plants rather than face increasing labor and cleanup costs, according to an investigation into the source of the Flint water contamination by the Verge. (Industry is not to blame for the whole water-poisoning debacle, but neither is it innocent.)

Local officials were more worried about saving money than protecting the safety of Flint residents. But they didn’t poison the water to begin with – a whole structural array of forces did, including Trump’s beloved private sector dumping untreated waste.

That’s because the best check on the kind of gross state and local government mismanagement that we saw in Michigan is the EPA. The problem in Flint was not what the EPA did; it’s what it didn’t do. It’s that the EPA was by an order of magnitude far too weak and inactive.

As Joel Beauvais, head of the agency’s water office put it in his testimony before the House Oversight Committee earlier this year, the EPA urged local authorities to address the lack of corrosion control in Flint’s water, “But (the EPA) encountered resistance.”

If Trump had his way, the agency would be gutted entirely. And that gets to the heart of what’s so terrifying about a potential Trump presidency.

Set aside the outlandish racism – the calls to build a wall on the border and seize oil in the Middle East – and his campaign is still in essence a Mitt Romney-esque embrace of right-wing deregulation.

He’s not trying to hide that fact. After leaving Flint, he turned around the very next day to condemn the EPA’s Clean Water Rule in a speech in New York Thursday, and earlier this year, Trump lackey Chris Christie discussed Trump’s desire to fire federal workers at the EPA and other regulatory agencies, replacing them with CEOs.

As New York magazine noted at the time, “In Trump’s America, progressives won’t have to worry about former banking executives regulating their old colleagues — active CEOs will be doing that for their current ones.” (You might replace “progressives” with any old human worried about being poisoned.)


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