We cannot as a nation support legislation that makes our water dirtier and our air filthier.
WHEN President Donald Trump was elected, I quit my job. When Trump was inaugurated, I packed a bag and left the United States. I was in Asia for four months. That was my intentional, albeit cowardly, escape from reality.
Eventually I started to miss home. I missed America. I missed cars with seat belts, roads with guardrails, cities with garbage collection, air that didn’t hurt to breathe. Most of all, I missed getting clean water from the tap.
A month ago, I returned home to Seattle blissfully ignorant of the current state of American politics and with a huge hankering for tap water. Dropping my bags at the door, I raced to my kitchen sink and drank. Glass after glass, I quenched my craving with the cool, clean water that fell from my faucet.
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In America, clean drinking water is often taken for granted. However, after living in countries where people do not have access to clean water, my appreciation for Seattle’s public water supply was running high that day. After satisfying my thirst, I turned off the tap and turned on the news. This is what I learned: Trump had signed an executive order that could defile 20 million acres of America’s natural water filters. Apparently, he thinks there’s no value in healthy wetlands and streams.
Despite being a student of environmental sciences for years, it wasn’t until my most recent trip abroad that I realized something about America: Our environmental protection laws are what “make America great.” Laws that keep our air clean, our water safe, our sewage and trash contained, our recreational tourism thriving, our favorite places protected, and our lands capable of producing nutritious food. These are the laws that make the American life so enviable to millions of people around the world.
America is great because state and federal officials have prevented our lands from being decimated by uncontrolled development. America is great because its people have not been pulverized by pollution and disease.
While wetlands and streams may be minor inconveniences for golf course-owning-billionaires, they are essential features of the natural water-filtration process that keep our water supply ample and safe. Wetlands are innately a part of what makes America great — people.
Today, Seattle’s annual Drinking Water Quality Report was mailed to my house in the Crown Hill neighborhood. And guess what? Seattleites have some of the best city water in the country thanks to the 100,000 acres of protected watershed lands that naturally clean the water before it enters Seattle’s water treatment plants.
I repeat: It takes 100,000 acres of undeveloped land to ensure clean water for the entire city of Seattle. Yet Trump is giving the “go-ahead” to developers and golf course owners to contaminate more than 20,000,000 acres of America’s natural water-filtration system?
Imagine Seattle’s two watersheds — gone. Now imagine 200 other Seattle-sized city’s watersheds — gone. Clean water sources in America — gone. Irrigation for farmlands — gone.
This is what could happen if our government continues to support legislation that makes our water dirtier and our air filthier. So, explain it to me one more time: How does this make America great, again?