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FOIA Request Reveals EPA Employees’ Dumbfounded Reactions to Trump Remarks About Toilets


Several top officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may soon find themselves swept up President Donald Trump’s mission to purge his administration of those not seen as “sufficiently loyal.” Emails revealed Thursday showed how agency employees reacted to the president’s rant about toilet flushing.

The emails were obtained by NBC News through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

“I can’t even,” Veronica Blette, chief of the EPA’s WaterSense program wrote in a Dec. 6 email to several colleagues that included a video of Trump’s comments. Blette then sent another email linking to a tweet about the president’s remarks, simply writing, “Sigh.”

The videos showed Trump in the Oval Office telling reporters that he’d ordered the EPA to “look very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms” in relation to poor water pressure in areas where there are “tremendous amounts of water.” He went on to claim that, in these areas, “people are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once,” and thus “end up using more water.”

The agency’s WaterSense program, headed by Blette, seeks to protect the future of the U.S. water supply by promoting and enhancing the market for water-efficient products and services.

Responding to a water company executive who suggested Trump’s comments indicated it would be difficult to get him on board with the program’s conservation efforts, WaterSense brand manager Beth Livingston sarcastically said she was looking forward to the challenge.

“Nothing like a challenge!” she responded. “We don’t like faucets that only put one drop of water on my hands — LOL — the only ones I think of that might actually just drip are for Barbie doll play houses!”

According to the EPA’s website, WaterSense toilets and showerheads use approximately 20-percent less water than current federal standards require, while WaterSense faucets can reduce waterflow by 30-percent, and “can save the average family 700 gallons of water per year, equal to the amount of water needed to take 45 showers.”

Trump was likely riffing on opposition talking point to conservational fixtures, which typically contends that the reduced waterflow is ultimately offset by people needing to spend more time in the shower or flush more than once.

Earlier this month, a FOIA request revealed that administration officials similarly lambasted the president over email following “Sharpie-gate.”

When reached for comment, the EPA directed NBC News to spokesperson Michael Abboud’s December statement that the agency was working with other federal agencies to “ensure American consumers have more choice when purchasing water products.”

[image via Steven Ryan_Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.