President Donald Trump’s new plan to tackle the nation’s sewage crisis could cost the government more than $300 million.
The White House on Wednesday announced that the Trump administration has decided to fund the $1.3 billion wastewater management plan, which Trump says will eliminate more than 40 million tons of waste, which it will cover with federal grants and loans.
“In the coming weeks, we will be announcing additional funding for the Trump Administration’s efforts to clean and treat wastewater,” the administration said in a statement.
“Our commitment to this initiative is clear: Our nation’s wastewater will no longer be treated in sewage, the chemical waste produced when sewage is discharged from industrial or commercial facilities.”
The plan is expected to cost taxpayers $9.8 billion over the next five years.
That’s far less than the $28.9 billion cost of the Clean Power Plan, Trump’s effort to curb carbon emissions.
The new plan will also not cover the costs of a $1 trillion expansion of the National Guard to guard against wildfires.
The EPA has been using $7.5 billion of the money to buy more than 5 million acres of wetlands, including a $500 million purchase of the 1.3 million-acre “sewage” section of the Rio Grande River, the EPA said.
“The Trump Administration is committed to clean the river system and preserve the environment,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in the statement.
“This new wastewater management effort will ensure that Americans continue to benefit from clean water, clean air and clean soil.”
In an effort to address concerns that the plan could create a public health crisis in rural areas, Pruitt said the administration will “take a hard look at the science behind how to best deal with sewage,” and has directed EPA officials to study how best to “provide appropriate safeguards and protections for the communities and individuals in these communities that have been impacted by sewage discharge.”
He said that EPA officials will “conduct a rigorous review of existing and proposed policies and procedures to determine the best way to safely manage and dispose of sewage waste.”
Pruitt said the plan would not require the federal government to release information on sewage that it has previously withheld under the Clean Water Act.
Trump signed a plan in March to address the sewage issue, but it was not yet clear if the new EPA plan would address the problem or other pollutants that are released when sewage and wastewater is treated.
Pruppin said he believes the Trump EPA will be able to manage sewage properly because of the expertise of the agency’s chief, Scott Pruitt, and the “extraordinary efforts” of state and local officials.
“I believe we will achieve results that will create a safer, cleaner, and more sustainable environment,” Pruitt said.