Jun 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

EPA will no longer regulate toxic compound in drinking water

Andrew Wheeler sits in a suit and tie
EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler testifies on May 20 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Pool via Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it will not regulate or limit a toxic chemical compound linked to infant brain damage in drinking water.

The big picture: The Trump administration has revoked or rolled back 66 environmental regulations, per a New York Times analysis. Eight of the regulation reversals have taken place since late April, during the coronavirus pandemic.

Details: The EPA says that levels of the toxic compound — perchlorate — have already been reduced in the U.S. through drinking water regulations in California, Nevada and Massachusetts, and improved storage for drinking water disinfectants.

  • In 2011, the Obama administration said that perchlorate caused by runoff contaminated drinking water for as many as 16 million Americans, PBS reports.
  • The EPA says its health impact analysis shows that a higher concentration of perchlorate is necessary to cause health problems than concentrations found in 2011.

What they're saying: “Today’s decision is built on science and local success stories and fulfills President Trump’s promise to pare back burdensome ‘one-size-fits-all’ overregulation for the American people,” EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.

  • “State and local water systems are effectively and efficiently managing levels of perchlorate. Our state partners deserve credit for their leadership on protecting public health in their communities, not unnecessary federal intervention," Wheeler said.

The other side: “Today’s decision is illegal, unscientific and unconscionable,” Erik Olson, senior strategic director for health at the advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council, said on Thursday, per the New York Times.

  • “The Environmental Protection Agency is threatening the health of pregnant moms and young children with toxic chemicals in their drinking water at levels that literally can cause loss of I.Q. points."

Go deeper ... NYT: EPA will not limit chemical compound linked to fetal damage

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