The Republican-led House voted last week to cut the amount of arsenic allowed in the nation''s drinking water.
On a 182 to 214 vote, the lawmakers voted down an attempt to restore $25 million to EPA''s enforcement and compliance budget. However, by 218 to 189, the House approved an amendment to prevent the EPA from spending funds to weaken arsenic standards.
EPA Administrator Christie Whitman said in a statement she was disappointed that the House "decided to prejudge the outcome of this issue."
Environmentalists commended the House for voting to safeguard Americans from arsenic in our drinking water.
"Americans cannot afford to delay new protections against arsenic any longer, and Congress voted to protect us from the President''s irresponsible policies," said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. "Americans don''t want arsenic in their water."
On March 20, the Bush administration suspended the revised arsenic standard for drinking water that would have protected more than 12 million Americans currently drinking water that contains unsafe levels of arsenic.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, long-term exposure to low concentrations of arsenic in drinking water can lead to skin, bladder, lung, and prostate cancer. Non-cancer effects of ingesting arsenic at low levels include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and anemia, as well as reproductive and developmental, immunological, and neurological effects.
by Virginia Foran