According to the Associated Press, millions of gallons of water per day filled with arsenic, lead, and other toxins are flowing from mining sites in to U.S. streams and ponds without being treated.
This water is poisoning both aquatic life and tap water resources in Montana, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, and other states.
The Associated Press examined 43 mining sites and found that on average, over 50 million gallons of contaminated water flow from these sites per day.
The pollution continues unabated partially due to the Trump Administration cuts to the superfund cleanup program. (Superfunds are the most hazardous sites in the nation.)
For centuries, mining companies were allowed to move on from their excavating sites after operations were no longer profitable, leaving behind toxins for their communities to clean up or ignore.
President Obama changed this dynamic by requiring mining operations to prove they had the financial means necessary to clean up future pollution prior to allowing firms to begin excavating.
What was the effect of this? It ended up placing the financial onus of clean up on mining companies instead of their local communities or taxpayers.
In 2017, former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt reversed this rule and transferred cleanup costs back to taxpayers, according to The Guardian.
Pruitt said that modern mining practices made Obama's rule unnecessary. Pruitt claimed that, “additional financial assurance requirements are unnecessary and would impose an undue burden on this important sector of the American economy and rural America, where most of these mining jobs are based."
Regardless of who will eventually end up paying for clean up, mining operations are threatening U.S. drinking supplies and harming animal habitats on a daily basis. This will likely remain the case until the Trump Administration leaves office.