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Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency will no longer impose limits on perchlorate, a toxic chemical compound linked to fetal and infant brain damage, the New York Times reports.

Where it stands: “The agency has determined that perchlorate does not occur with a frequency and at levels of public health concern, and that regulation of perchlorate does not present a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for persons served by public water systems,” the draft policy reads, the NYT reported according to unnamed EPA staff members.

The big picture: Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler made the call, which "appears to defy a court order that required the agency to establish a safe drinking-water standard for the chemical by the end of June," the Times writes. The policy acknowledges that perchlorate can cause IQ damage.

  • The EPA last year proposed regulating the chemical compound at 56 micrograms per liter, a limit that's three times higher than what was previously deemed safe.
  • A court ordered the EPA to set a new standard by June, but according to the Times, the agency plans on arguing that it's “not in the public interest” to regulate perchlorate.

What they're saying: An EPA spokesperson told Axios the agency hasn't made a final decision on regulating perchlorate.

"EPA is continuing to work on the final action regarding the regulation of perchlorate in public drinking water systems. EPA’s proposal included four clear options for the public to consider. The agency has not yet made a final decision and any information that is shared or reported now would be premature, inappropriate and would be prejudging the formal process. The next step in the process is to send the final action to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review. The agency expects to complete this step shortly."

Go deeper

Aug 20, 2020 - Technology

Former government officials argue for a new tech agency

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The government should establish a new Digital Platform Agency to regulate major tech firms, three Democratic former federal officials argue in a new paper from Harvard's Shorenstein Center shared first with Axios.

Why it matters: This is the latest proposal being offered up as policymakers weigh possible methods of reining in Big Tech beyond rewriting antitrust laws or taking a gamble on enforcement action under existing ones.

Senate Democrats unveil new income tax for billionaires

Sen. Ron Wyden. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Democrats on Wednesday released a billionaires' tax proposal, designed to help support President Biden's social spending and climate change legislation.

Why it matters: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the Billionaires Income Tax would raise "hundreds of billions of dollars" and would affect approximately 700 taxpayers who have more than $1 billion in assets or incomes of over $100 million a year.

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.

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