The attacks we are seeing on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are contrary to the health of our constituents and our planet; they are unsustainable.

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11)

45th Anniversary Of The Clean Water Act Reminds Ohioans That
Clean Rivers and Lakes Cannot Be Taken For Granted

President Trump’s Proposed Federal Budget and U.S. EPA Staff Cuts Threaten Midwestern Clean Water Infrastructure and Public Health

 

Cleveland, OH – October 18, 2017 –The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 704, as a part of the Save the U.S. EPA Campaign, hosted a press conference today at Merwin’s Wharf on the banks of the Cuyahoga River to bring attention to the 45th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act and to heed a warning that federal budget and staff cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will affect the lives of more than 11 million Ohioans and billions of Americans nationwide.

In part because of the Cuyahoga River fire in 1969, on October 18, 1972, the Clean Water Act was passed. In 2015, the EPA and the Army Corps issued the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule to clarify which bodies of water should be regulated under the Clean Water Act, which protects the nation’s waters from pollution.  The Trump administration is repealing the 2015 Clean Water Rule, the latest move to unwind environmental regulations put in place under former President Barack Obama. Administrator Pruitt’s EPA is working to return to less protective measures that would put our waters and our health at risk.

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, unable to attend, sent prepared remarks: “The attacks we are seeing on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are contrary to the health of our constituents and our planet; they are unsustainable.”

Kerry McCormack, Cleveland City Councilman (Ward 3), said “Since the passage of the Clean Water Act, Greater Cleveland has made significant progress in creating a more environmentally friendly community.  I am excited to partner with area stakeholders to continue this progress through initiatives targeting clean water, multimodal transportation, green urban design and community education. “

“On this anniversary of the Clean Water Act, we’re reminded of the importance of the federal-local partnership to keep our water clean and build a sustainable future,” concurred National League of Cities (NLC) President Matt Zone, councilmember from Cleveland’s Fifteenth Ward. “I’m proud to celebrate the ongoing revitalization of the Cuyahoga River, the Great Lakes and our city. America’s cities need the federal government to prioritize environmental protection and work in partnership with local leaders for the health and well-being of our residents.”

Also speaking at the press conference were Michael Mikulka, President of AFGE Local 704 and an engineer, Jane Goodman, Executive Director, Cuyahoga River Restoration, Matt Gray, Chief of Sustainability, City of Cleveland, and Harriet Applegate, Executive Secretary of the North Shore Federation of Labor.

As the EPA quickly loses sight of its mission to protect Americans’ health and safety, Administrator Scott Pruitt has sworn to eliminate thousands of essential civil service jobs at EPA. The engineers, scientists, toxicologists, marine biologists, and others who monitor air pollution and clean water are significant contributors to Ohio’s economy and their work is essential in order to protect and maintain the public health of residents across the Midwest.

“The EPA has now been cut down to a bare-bones staff of about 14,400, down from over 18,000 in 1999,” said Michael Mikulka, President, AFGE Local 704.  “The EPA budget has been declining since 2010, despite the ever-growing environmental issues we face, under the numerous environmental statutes the EPA is tasked with managing by Congress.  If these proposed budget cuts go through, EPA will have been cut by 27% since 2010.  This is clearly unacceptable.”

“When we think of cutbacks at the federal level, we automatically think of the reduction of services.  The actual people who deliver those services are not so salient in our minds. Every time the president calls for cutbacks, real families are hurt,“ according to Harriet Applegate, Executive Secretary of the North Shore Federation of Labor.  “In the case of the EPA, career scientists who have devoted their lives to the clean–up of our waste dumps, the purification of our air and the cleansing of our precious waterways and have racked up years of experience in the process will be discarded like the waste they have battled and saved us from.  “

Of immediate concern is the algae blooms in the western end of Lake Erie which blanket its waters and turn the lake unsightly shades of green in most summers. An outbreak in 2014 contaminated the tap water for more than 400,000 people around Toledo.

Jane Goodman, Executive Director of the Cuyahoga River Restoration, said, “It is essential that we as a nation continue to support the people and programs that have brought the Cuyahoga and so many other waterways from near-death back to life. The federal government speaks through its budget. We must remind Congress that cutting the EPA budget is tantamount to saying, ‘We know this will damage your health but we’re doing it anyway.’”

“It’s important to remember, especially on the 45th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, that a strong economy, healthy environment, and vibrant community are dependent on clean water, now more than ever, “said Matt Gray, Chief of Sustainability for the City of Cleveland.

 

Now, as we celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, we can’t go back to burning rivers. The Trump administration’s efforts to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule does just that. This campaign sounds the alarm that we must move fight any attempts to roll back protections for our lakes and rivers.

 

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About Save the U.S. EPA       

Save the U.S. EPA is a national campaign being conducted by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and the National Council of EPA Locals #238 to stop the Trump Administration and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Pruitt from passing a budget that will virtually decimate the EPA by drastically cutting or eliminating jobs and programs that are vital to the health and safety of America’s air, water, land and endangered species.

 

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Martha Kiley, (631) 988-7196

Aric Caplan, (301) 943-9525