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In the U.S., a variety of federal, state and local entities are involved in regulating safe drinking water. PxHere / CC0

By Brett Walton

Who's responsible for making sure the water you drink is safe? Ultimately, you are. But if you live in the U.S., a variety of federal, state and local entities are involved as well.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

PFAS are found in clothing, plastic, food packaging, electronics, personal care products, firefighting foams, medical devices and numerous other products. Pxfuel

By Carol Kwiatkowski

Like many inventions, the discovery of Teflon happened by accident. In 1938, chemists from Dupont (now Chemours) were studying refrigerant gases when, much to their surprise, one concoction solidified. Upon investigation, they found it was not only the slipperiest substance they'd ever seen – it was also noncorrosive and extremely stable and had a high melting point.

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The UK retailer John Lewis store in Sloane Square, London during Christmas of 2009. William Hook / CC BY-SA 2.0

Glitter may add sparkle to the holiday season, but its afterlife is decidedly less shiny.

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Criminal prosecutions for polluting the environment in violation of the Clean Water Act or the Clean Air Act have dropped to their lowest levels in decades under the Trump administration. Charles Cook / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images Plus

A new report finds that criminal prosecutions for polluting the environment in violation of the Clean Water Act or the Clean Air Act have dropped to their lowest levels in decades under the Trump administration, as The New York Times reported.

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A small boy drinks from a public drinking fountain in the historic Plaza in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Robert Alexander / Getty Images

By Eoin Higgins

President Donald Trump's EPA on Thursday finalized a rule to roll back regulations of a chemical found in rocket fuel that can cause brain damage in infants.

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A resident of Springdale, Pennsylvania looks out her front window at the smoke stack of the Cheswick coal-fired power plant on Oct. 27, 2017. Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

A three judge panel in the Court of Appeals in Washington, DC listened to arguments Thursday on a Trump administration rollback of regulations that limit the emissions that power plants are allowed to spew into the atmosphere, as The New York Times reported.

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A factory in Newark, N.J. emits smoke in the shadow of NYC on January 18, 2018. Kena Betancur / VIEWpress / Corbis / Getty Images

By Sharon Zhang

Back in March, when the pandemic had just planted its roots in the U.S., President Donald Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do something devastating: The agency was to indefinitely and cruelly suspend environmental rule enforcement. The EPA complied, and for just under half a year, it provided over 3,000 waivers that granted facilities clemency from state-level environmental rule compliance.

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Weeds dying in a soybean field impacted by dicamba spraying. JJ Gouin / iStock / Getty Images

A federal court overturned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) approval of dicamba Wednesday, meaning the controversial herbicide can no longer be sprayed in the U.S.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks onstage at the event Fourth Annual Berggruen Prize Gala Celebrates 2019 Laureate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in New York City on Dec. 16, 2019. Ilya S. Savenok / Getty Images for Berggruen Institute

The passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg means the nation's highest court has lost a staunch advocate for women's rights and civil rights. Ginsburg was a tireless worker, who continued to serve on the bench through multiple bouts of cancer. She also leaves behind a complicated environmental legacy, as Environment and Energy News (E&E News) reported.

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The Pile River flows into the northern end of Lake Iliamna. The lake and its tributaries are the headwaters of the Bristol Bay region, one of the richest salmon fisheries in the world. Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wrote a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers last week to say that it would not oppose or put a stop to a huge copper and gold mine near the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery, as The Washington Post reported.

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About EcoWatch


The EPA announced that soybean farmers in 25 states are allowed to spray Alite 27, a cancer-causing weedkiller known to drift 1,000 feet. fotokostic / iStock / Getty Images Plus

In the midst of the coronavirus epidemic, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that soybean farmers in 25 states are allowed to spray Alite 27, a cancer-causing weedkiller known to drift 1,000 feet from where it was sprayed, according to The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

To approve new use for the herbicide, which has the chemical name isoxaflutole and is manufactured by German-chemical giant BASF, the EPA had to skirt around the usual public comment period for the decision. The registration for isoxaflutole was opened for public comment, but it was never listed in the federal register. Agencies almost always provide notice that they are considering a new rule in the federal register, according to to The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

"The press release caught everyone off guard, we were just waiting for the EPA to open the comment period, and we never saw it," said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, referring to an EPA press release, as the AP reported.

The spray, which is already used on corn in 33 states, can be sprayed on crops that have been genetically engineered to resist the herbicide. Commodity farmers praised the decision and touted the weedkiller as an indispensable tool in their arsenal of supplies to push back against new "super weeds" that have grown resistant to several types of herbicides, including glyphosate, or RoundUp, the most commonly used herbicide in the U.S., as to The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting reported.

"One of the biggest challenges growers face is resistant weeds, and the soybean market needed a new residual active ingredient to help fight against them," said Darren Unland, Technical Marketing Manager, BASF Agricultural Solutions, in a company press release. "Alite 27 herbicide will provide growers with another pre-emergent herbicide option to layer into their herbicide program for effective, season-long control."

Comments like Unland's were the only ones that appeared in the public register. In fact, there were 54 comments in the public register and all of them were in praise of Alite 27, neglecting that it is a known carcinogen and that the drift of the herbicide is potentially harmful to nearby farms and farmers.


"Clearly no one from the public health community knew about this because no one commented," Donley said, as The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting noted. "Yet there was all these industry comments, all these positive comments. Someone was tipped off that this docket had been opened. One side was able to comment, the other wasn't."

While BASF and the EPA insist that they followed protocol and there was a month-long protocol for issuing public comment, the one-sided comments certainly raise eyebrows. The EPA, however, did put limits on the use of the potent herbicide, only allowing it in certain counties in 25 states and not in Indiana or Illinois, the two largest soybean-producing states.

"This is basically an herbicide that shouldn't be approved at all for any use. It's that bad really on both the human health and environmental fronts," said Bill Freese, science policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, a national nonprofit public interest and environmental advocacy organization working to protect human health and the environment, according to The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

Freese insisted he was ready with an arsenal of facts for the public comment period, but he never saw it. Amongst the facts that Freese wanted to present was the EPA's own statement that isoxaflutole is a likely carcinogen that damages human liver enzymes, it contaminates ground water, it travels long distances from where it was sprayed, and its label is extremely complicated. It requires farmers to know their soil type and the height of their water table.

"It's outrageous," Freese said to The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. "They knew this is a bad news chemical, and it was very likely done because they didn't want to give environmental groups the opportunity to comment on this, so they can avoid scrutiny."

Trump looks on as EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks during an event to unveil changes to the National Environmental Policy Act on Jan. 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

The Trump administration announced that it would roll back a rule from 2015 that was put in place to limit the amount of toxic chemicals that are in the wastewater of coal plants, according to The Washington Post.

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Workers clean up a crude oil leak from a pipeline in Minnesota in 2002. JOEY MCLEISTER / Star Tribune via Getty Images

The Trump administration has finalized a rule making it harder for states and tribal communities to block pipelines and other infrastructure projects that threaten waterways.

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Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

In the U.S., a variety of federal, state and local entities are involved in regulating safe drinking water. PxHere / CC0

By Brett Walton

Who's responsible for making sure the water you drink is safe? Ultimately, you are. But if you live in the U.S., a variety of federal, state and local entities are involved as well.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

PFAS are found in clothing, plastic, food packaging, electronics, personal care products, firefighting foams, medical devices and numerous other products. Pxfuel

By Carol Kwiatkowski

Like many inventions, the discovery of Teflon happened by accident. In 1938, chemists from Dupont (now Chemours) were studying refrigerant gases when, much to their surprise, one concoction solidified. Upon investigation, they found it was not only the slipperiest substance they'd ever seen – it was also noncorrosive and extremely stable and had a high melting point.

Read More Show Less
The UK retailer John Lewis store in Sloane Square, London during Christmas of 2009. William Hook / CC BY-SA 2.0

Glitter may add sparkle to the holiday season, but its afterlife is decidedly less shiny.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch

Criminal prosecutions for polluting the environment in violation of the Clean Water Act or the Clean Air Act have dropped to their lowest levels in decades under the Trump administration. Charles Cook / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images Plus

A new report finds that criminal prosecutions for polluting the environment in violation of the Clean Water Act or the Clean Air Act have dropped to their lowest levels in decades under the Trump administration, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A small boy drinks from a public drinking fountain in the historic Plaza in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Robert Alexander / Getty Images

By Eoin Higgins

President Donald Trump's EPA on Thursday finalized a rule to roll back regulations of a chemical found in rocket fuel that can cause brain damage in infants.

Read More Show Less
A resident of Springdale, Pennsylvania looks out her front window at the smoke stack of the Cheswick coal-fired power plant on Oct. 27, 2017. Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

A three judge panel in the Court of Appeals in Washington, DC listened to arguments Thursday on a Trump administration rollback of regulations that limit the emissions that power plants are allowed to spew into the atmosphere, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
A factory in Newark, N.J. emits smoke in the shadow of NYC on January 18, 2018. Kena Betancur / VIEWpress / Corbis / Getty Images

By Sharon Zhang

Back in March, when the pandemic had just planted its roots in the U.S., President Donald Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do something devastating: The agency was to indefinitely and cruelly suspend environmental rule enforcement. The EPA complied, and for just under half a year, it provided over 3,000 waivers that granted facilities clemency from state-level environmental rule compliance.

Read More Show Less