If you're the Environmental Protection Agency, one thing you probably don't want is a viral image of weird black sludge coating a water fountain in your headquarters. And yet, sometimes things don't go the way you want them to ― according to climate change advocacy group Safe Climate Campaign, an EPA water fountain got somehow coated in black sludge, possibly sewage. Bustle has reached out the the EPA for comment.
It's a striking and pretty unpleasant picture, so apologies in advance if you don't have the strongest stomach. The Safe Climate Campaign tweeted it out on Friday afternoon, claiming that the fountain ― visibly spattered with some sort of foul-looking black substance, and with the surrounding floor coated in the stuff ― was an example of Trump's EPA "turning metaphor into reality."
Safe Climate Campaign reportedly told Mashable in an email that the offending drinking fountain was outside the office of Samantha Dravis, the Trump administration's associate administration of the EPA's office of policy. Dravis was selected for the role by EPA administrator Scott Pruitt in February; she did not have previous experience working as an environmental regulator, previously having worked alongside Pruitt to try to stymie the EPA's regulatory efforts in Oklahoma while he was attorney general. Said Safe Climate Campaign:
It is evidently sewage at the water fountain at the water fountain in front of Samantha Dravis' office at the EPA headquarters. ... Sewage flowing from a water fountain in front of a Trump appointee's office really reeks of irony.
To be clear, it's impossible to tell just from the photo what the substance was, but Safe Climate Campaign spokesperson Grace Garver reportedly told Mashable it was "evidently" sewage. What's not up for debate is that seeing a mysterious, gross looking fluid sprayed all over a drinking fountain in the headquarters of the government agency that's meant to regulate clean drinking water is not a great look.
The EPA under Trump has come under fire throughout its first year for staffing itself with industry-friendly scientists and researchers, and over concerns that it'll turn its back on many of the clean water and air standards that were its hallmark during the Obama administration. Those concerns were in no way alleviated by the naming of Pruitt as the agency's administrator ― as Oklahoma's attorney general, he actively sued the EPA multiple times to try to avoid complying with its water and air pollution regulations.
One particularly controversial addition to the Trump EPA's scientific advisory board was UC Irvine researcher Robert Phalen, who has previously suggested that modern air quality is "a little too clean" for optimum children's health, and has spoken out against his campus' tobacco ban, calling it "social activism" conducted by "unreasonable" activists. Suffice it to say, amid a host of areas of scrutiny and criticism of the new Trump EPA for environmentalists, Phalen's addition to the fold was a real headline-grabber.
Needless to say, there are plenty of legitimate and forgivable reasons that one might end up with a gross sewage leak near a drinking fountain ― lots of buildings and facilities deal with unpleasant plumbing mishaps now and again. It's one of the perils of modern life, offset by all the countless, enormous advantages of indoor plumbing.
Still, when it's happening inside the EPA headquarters, and it's an iteration of the EPA widely seen as less concerned with protecting clean air and water than its predecessors, the implications are a little more troubling. Things start to look a little more on the nose, and pretty soon, you've got a very embarrassing viral image kicking around the halls of social media.