top of page

Kristine England

Clean, drinkable water coming out of the tap. That is something most Americans take for granted. The crisis in Flint, Michigan brought to light how tenuous that reality is. After Republican Governor Rick Snyder appointed Emergency Manager, Darnell Earley, to the city, things started to go downhill

It’s been well documented that the switch to pumping Flint’s river caused a massive contamination issue. Earley claims the decision was made under the previous manager, Ed Kurtz, but he implemented the change, and the results were disastrous. For two years, residents were drinking water that culminated in elevated lead levels, a most dangerous condition for children in particular, whose developing brains are at a greater risk from this poison.

Everyone’s attention zeroed in on the long-suffering city, and most of us shook our heads and wondered how such a thing could be allowed to happen. What most people don’t realize is that Flint was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The Environmental Working Group released an interactive map of areas in the lower 48 with substantial hexavalent chromium (Chromium-6) contaminations. What’s Chromium-6? Remember Erin Brockovich? She was involved in uncovering the polluting of Hinkley, California’s water by PG&E and instrumental in winning a lawsuit against the utility in 1993. She’s still at it. She continues to be a strong voice for protections for the substance that is basic for our survival.

The map is alarming in its scope. Every state has a significant amount of Chromium-6. Inhalation of this toxin can create respiratory cancers. Drinking it can lead to other cancers and problems with the liver, small intestine and stomach. It’s just not something you want to imbibe. But you probably are.

And pollutants are just the beginning. The significant droughts the country has experienced are driving some states toward peril. In 2015, USA Today outlined risks for 8 states, most of which are in the West, but which also included South Carolina.

The Trump Administration is well on its way to neutering the effectiveness of the EPA, including slashing regulations, removing information on the environment (climate change was the first to be expunged from its Website) and freezing scientific grants that track air quality and watersheds along with muzzling government employees who seek to inform the public (no social media for you). Even the CDC, USDA and Health and Human Services Department are being silenced.

To anticipate regrettable and avoidable fallout from these policies is to eschew “alternative facts,” and to live in the reality-based world. It will get worse before it gets better. Maybe then people will realize regulations aren’t put in place to kill jobs; they exist to save people.

bottom of page