July 27, 2001
President Bush has asked the National Academies of Science to
take nine months to determine the safe level of arsenic in drinking
water. His intention is to use the information for setting the
new arsenic standard that will go into effect in 2006. Congressman
David Bonior of Michigan (D) has introduced an amendment, H.R.
1413, that would arbitrarily set the new standard at 10 parts
per billion - months before the NAS report is due.
TEN SECOND RESPONSE: President Bush is right to insist that a decision
on maximum arsenic levels in water be based on sound science and
he is right to not make decisions arbitrarily for political purposes.
THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: It is foolish and dangerous to introduce legislation
to arbitrarily set the maximum arsenic levels in water when, in
a few months ,we will have sound scientific information for setting
this number. It is important to base this environmental decision
on sound science and not politics. If we set the level too high,
Americans will be at risk; too low and many municipal and private
water companies will be forced out of business, causing Americans
to rely on more risky personal wells.
Many environmental groups and their allies have attacked the administration
for delaying implementation of a new arsenic standard for drinking
water, a standard which was put into place by the Clinton administration
hours before leaving office.
THIS CHARGE IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE.
After 25 years of study by various administations,
the Clinton administration set the permitted level of arsenic
at 10 parts per billion, down from the current 50 - without asking
the National Academies of Science precisely what the new level
should be. Further, the new regulation set forth by the Clinton
administration would not have gone into effect until the year
Under President Bush's order, the new
maximum arsenic level standard will still go into effect in 2006.
Mr. Bush has simply asked the NAS to take nine months to tell
him precisely what that new level should be so the Bush administration
can make certain that the new standard protects the greatest number
of Americans the most efficiently and effectively as possible.
by Tom Randall, Director of Environmental
and Regulatory Affairs, The National Center for Public Policy
Contact the author at: 773-857-5086
The National Center for Public Policy Research, Chicago office
3712 N. Broadway - PMB 279
Chicago, IL 60613