Key congressional Republicans voiced concerns Tuesday about the prospect that EPA will not set drinking water limits for two toxic chemicals — an issue that raises new hurdles for acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s bid to permanently lead the agency.
POLITICO reported Monday that Wheeler has signed off on a still-unpublished decision not to regulate the chemicals under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The chemicals, known as PFOA and PFOS, are linked to dangerous health effects, including kidney and testicular cancer, and have been found in millions of Americans’ drinking waterafter being used for decades in products such as Teflon and military firefighting foam.
“I’m concerned about it,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), whose state has had two major contamination cases tied to the chemicals. “I’m concerned about what he thinks the reasoning is for how we’re going to get to a safer water standard if that’s not the direction they go. I think I need a fuller explanation from him.”
Capito, who is facing reelection in 2020, will be a crucial Republican vote when the closely divided Senate Environment and Public Works Committee votes on Wheeler’s nomination. She said she had a telephone call scheduled with Wheeler later Tuesday to discuss the water issue.
The committee has 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats, meaning one Republican defection could prevent the nomination from advancing.
In the House, some lawmakers are already calling for Congress to step in and force EPA to set a drinking water limit if the Trump administration does not act.
“If the EPA refuses to do its job, Congress must intercede,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), who co-chairs the bipartisan congressional task force on the chemicals.
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), whose district uncovered a significant contamination from the chemicals this summer, told POLITICO that “doing nothing is not acceptable.” He added, “We’ll have ample opportunity to grill EPA.”
The drinking water decision is included in a chemical management plan that […]