Bush Administration Moves to Apply Science to Arsenic Rule


DATE: May 7, 2001

BACKGROUND: President Bush postponed the implementation of the EPA's rule, signed in the closing hours of the Clinton Administration, to reduce allowable arsenic in drinking water from 50 parts per billion to just 10 ppb. In doing so Bush potentially prevented a costly environmental blunder. However, Democrats have attacked the action, alleging that it will cause an increase in "premature" deaths.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: President Bush acted to put science ahead of politics when he chose to put Clinton's hastily-imposed rule on hold until researchers can determine the proper standard..

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: The President's action to delay the rule to reduce the arsenic levels from 50 to 10 parts per billion will, in the end, save lives while still protecting poor rural communities from needless expense. The government simply doesn't yet know if the new standard should be set at ten, or at some other level. The National Resources Defense Council, which has protested the delay, has also said the new standard should be three. How many times can we ask communities to spend billions of dollars to rework water systems? Let's get it right the first time.

DISCUSSION: Throughout the Clinton administration, because of the rush to fulfill the political agendas of the environmental extremists, such as the leadership of the Sierra Club and the National Resources Defense Council, the environment was often harmed, not protected. People were exposed to disease, not protected from it. Lives were put in danger.

For example:

MTBE: Until the very end of its term, the Clinton administration insisted that adding the oxygenate, methyl tertiary-butyl ether, commonly referred to as MTBE, to gasoline was essential to providing clean air and posed no risk to drinking water. After eight years of continuous use, is it now known that MTBE has polluted water in 31 states and forced the closing of numerous municipal and private wells, while the National Research Council has established that MTBE did nothing to improve air quality.

CLASS B SLUDGE: The Sludge rule, 40 CFR part 503, was rushed through by Carol Browner's EPA in 1993. It resulted in millions of tons of toxic sludge from municipal sewage treatment plants being spread on farm fields every day- a practice that continues today. Only last year, seven years after the rule was promulgated, did the Centers for Disease Control find that such sludge contained disease-causing human pathogens. Allen Ruben Ph.D., the developer of the sludge rule, told the New Hampshire legislature, which was looking into the death of a young man from exposure to class B sludge, the rule was a political public relations kind of thing.


by Tom Randall, Director of Environmental & Regulatory Affairs, The National Center for Public Policy Research

Contact the author at: 773-857-5086 or TRandall@nationalcenter.org
The National Center for Public Policy Research, Chicago office
3712 North Broadway - PMB 279
Chicago, IL 60613