EPA Administer Scott Pruitt today faced questions over recently released emails that show White House and EPA officials attempted to delay a new federal standard for toxic chemicals in drinking water. Brittany Patterson reports the chemicals includ the compound C-8 and other similar substances detected in several water systems in the Ohio Valley,
At a Senate hearing, Republican West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito pressed Pruitt on the emails.
They show researchers at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, intend to release a report that recommends water exposure levels for some chemicals that are more stringent than EPA’s current levels. The new standards would apply to toxic fluorinated chemicals, sometimes called PFOA or C-8.
The emails show EPA, White House and Department of Defense officials scrambled to block the report. One official called the document a -- quote -- “public relations nightmare.”
Pruitt denied having knowledge of EPA concerns and told Capito the agency will hold a C-8 summit next week.
“What is your response to the question on this report? Will it be published? Will we see it before your stakeholder meeting next week?," she said.
Pruitt repliec, "well again, HHS is a participant in that summit next week. And I was not aware that there had been some holding back of the report. I think it’s important to have all information in the marketplace."
Communities across the Ohio Valley have for decades dealt with C-8 contamination. The chemicals were used in a range of products including non-stick pans, fabric coatings and firefighting foam.
Pruitt says the agency intends to “take more concrete action” on C-8. That may include classifying the chemicals as hazardous or creating a legal drinking water standard.