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EPA to Adopt New Arsenic Standard for Nation’s Drinking Water

HeadlineSep 11, 2001

The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded it must adopt a new standard for the amount of naturally occurring arsenic allowed in the nation’s drinking water that is at least as tough as the one proposed by the Clinton administration. EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman decided to recommend a stringent new limit after receiving a report from the National Academy of Sciences that found that the health risks posed by arsenic are much greater than previously assumed by the EPA. The decision addresses one of the most controversial environmental decisions the Bush administration has made since coming into office. In March, the administration set aside a Clinton administration regulation tightening the fifty-year federal standard for arsenic levels in drinking water from fifty parts-per-billion to ten parts-per-billion. The move touched off criticism from Democrats, environmentalists and moderate Republicans and prompted a House vote seeking to reverse the action. After receipt of the report, an agency official said that in no case would the EPA propose a standard any weaker than the Clinton administration’s ten parts-per-billion, while hinting the final standard might be even tougher.

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