Making Good on Trump Threat, EPA Cites San Francisco Over Sewers

The Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline from the Marin Headlands above Sausalito, Calif., on Oct. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

(CN) – Continuing its fixation with the Golden State, the Trump administration has accused San Francisco of soiling city streets and beaches with raw sewage and a bevy of other Clean Water Act violations.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claims the city has allowed “raw and partially treated sewage” to seep into the ocean and blamed its sewer system. In a violation letter sent to city officials Wednesday, the EPA orders the city to address the various charges or potentially face fines.

The letter comes two weeks after President Donald Trump ripped state and local politicians during a fundraising trip to the Golden State. He criticized the state for its large homeless population and hinted the EPA would soon be issuing San Francisco a citation.

“We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening,” Trump said during his California trip.

He further roiled state officials and environmentalists on the trip when the EPA announced it was formally moving to revoke California’s longstanding authority to set its own fuel efficiency standards. California and 22 other states responded the next day with a federal lawsuit, arguing the rule change will result in more smog and damage public health.

The California attacks continued after Trump returned to the White House: Last week, the EPA threatened to cut road funding due to California’s “chronic air quality problems” and accused the state of failing water-quality standards due to its burgeoning homelessness crisis.

“The EPA is aware of the growing homelessness crisis developing in major California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the impact of this crisis on the environment,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a Sept. 26 letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom. “The EPA is concerned about the potential water quality impacts from pathogens and other contaminants from untreated human waste entering nearby waters.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said Wednesday’s letter was filled with “mischaracterizations” and amounted to another attack by the Trump administration on the city and state.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, condemned the letter and called it “baseless.”

“The same Trump EPA that is dismantling environmental protections around the country is now making fraudulent claims about San Francisco’s combined sewer system – a system that is a national model of sustainability,” Wiener said in a statement. “This ‘Notice of Violation’ by Trump’s EPA is a fraudulent political attack on San Francisco by a collapsing administration desperate to rile up its base.”

Trump grabbed national headlines last month when he said that needles were flowing down San Francisco streets and into the ocean, but Wednesday’s letter doesn’t solidify that incredible claim. Instead, it cites the city for failing to properly inspect and maintain its wastewater and sewer systems and of not keeping accurate records.

The city has defended itself against the president’s attacks, with Mayor Breed assuring the public that needles and other debris caught in storm drains are filtered out at treatment plants, as is normal for American cities.

“No debris flow out into the bay or the ocean,” the mayor said in a statement.

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