Slashed Funds to Help Rural America Keep Farm Pollution Out of Drinking Water

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FRIDAY, MAY 26, 2017

WASHINGTON – Rural Americans were key to President Trump’s election, but the president’s proposed budget would reward their support by allowing more animal waste, toxic pesticides and fertilizer pollution in their drinking water, said EWG.

“President Trump has put a dirty-water bullseye on the backs of the very same voters who swept him into office,” said Craig Cox, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at EWG. “If the president’s plan to cut programs that protect clean drinking water in farm country becomes law, his most ardent supporters will see even more manure, pesticides and nitrates fouling their drinking water sources than they do now.”

Recent image from a Nebraska rest stop.

Trump’s budget proposal seeks to eliminate or slash federal funding for a number of vital programs that help states and rural communities deal with water pollution, much of which comes from polluted runoff from corn and soybean fields and factory farms.

One water protection program targeted for elimination is the Environmental Protection Agency’s 319 grant program for nonpoint source pollution.  Trump is calling for zeroing out its budget of $164 million. Under the program, rural communities “receive grant money to support a wide variety of activities” to help mitigate water pollution, including from agriculture and forestry operations.

EPA estimates that its nonpoint source pollution program has “partially or fully restored 674 water bodies” in the U.S. Success stories of this initiative abound for virtually every state in the country, including Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio and Michigan.

In Iowa alone, there are 124 nonpoint source pollution projects that are either ongoing or completed. Exposure to nitrates in drinking water has been linked to higher rates of thyroid, bladder and ovarian cancer, and can lead to so-called blue baby syndrome, which can be fatal to infants under 6 months old.

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