EPA administrator comments on arsenic rule to Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies

Governor Christine Todd Whitman, Administrator of the EPA, commented on the EPA's recent proposal to rethink the recently finalized arsenic rule.

March 21, 2001--In a speech to the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies in Washington Tuesday, Governor Christine Todd Whitman, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, commented on the EPA's recent proposal to rethink the recently finalized arsenic rule.

The following is an excerpt from her remarks.

"Next, as you know there are several water rules at various stages in the process when President Bush took office -rules we have reserved the right to review further. One of those rules concerns acceptable levels for arsenic in drinking water.

"Shortly before leaving office, the previous administration lowered the drinking water standard of arsenic from 50 parts per billion to ten parts per billion. As you know, this proposal has been met with a great deal of concern.

"In particular, some have questioned whether EP A appropriately dealt with scientific uncertainties in estimating the health benefits of the rule. In addition, some of those communities that would have the most work to do have questioned whether EP A has under-estimated compliance costs.

"I have looked at this issue very carefully. I believe it is clear that the current standard, which was established more than 50 years ago, is too high. At the same time, I believe that there is still question as to whether the ten parts per billion standard is the right one.

"As President Bush made very clear during the campaign, the EP A in the Bush Administration is going to make decisions based on solid analysis and reason. In short, we're going to replace sound- bite rule-making with sound-science rule-making.

"From my review to date, I have found that there are still unresolved serious questions about the proposed arsenic rule. That is why earlier today I have signed the documents necessary to provide for a further review of the proposed new standard.

"When that data is in, and after the public has had the chance to comment, we will move forward and take such actions as are consistent with our commitment to ensuring a safe and affordable water supply for all Americans. When we make a decision on arsenic, it will be based on sound science and solid analysis.

"In addition, the EP A will continue to review contemplated rules concerning radon,

MTBE, and the control of cryptosporidium. The decisions on those matters, like all the decisions I expect to make as administrator, will also be made based on sound science and-solid analysis."

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