September 26, 2019 / 2:16 PM / 21 days ago

Trump EPA says California must protect water better from homeless waste

WASHINGTON, Sept 26 (Reuters) - The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency escalated its feud with California on Thursday by accusing the state of failing to properly prevent human waste from its homeless population from entering waterways in violation of clean water laws, according to a letter it sent to California’s governor. “Based on data and reports, EPA is concerned that California’s implementation of federal environmental laws is failing to meet its obligation required under delegated federal programs,” said the letter from Administrator Andrew Wheeler to Governor Gavin Newsom obtained and published by the Washington Post.

Wheeler said the point of the letter is to “outline the deficiencies” it sees in how California safeguards its water.

He criticized how the state is handling homelessness in San Francisco and Los Angeles, saying the governor and mayors “do not appear to be acting with urgency” to mitigate the public health risks from “untreated human waste entering nearby waters.”

The letter is the latest move by the Trump administration to target California, which has waged numerous policy battles and legal challenges over environmental protection, immigration, housing and other issues.

Earlier this week, EPA sent a similar letter to California threatening to withdraw federal transportation funding to punish California for not publishing pollution control plans in time.

The state angered the EPA and President Donald Trump in July when it secretly negotiated a deal with four major automakers who agreed to abide by California’s more stringent vehicle emission and fuel efficiency standards.

The president retaliated last week by revoking California’s decades-old authority to set emissions standards that were tougher than those required by the federal government, prompting a lawsuit days later by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Becerra has sued the Trump administration over 60 times over numerous moves to undo federal environmental regulations and protection for immigrants.

On Monday, Newsom said at the United Nations, where he represented California the Climate Action Summit that Trump’s attacks on environmental protections and dismissal of the threat of climate change made the United States look bad on the world stage.

“I’m absolutely humiliated by what’s going on,” he said. (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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