- The Washington Times - Friday, July 20, 2001

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized the Bush administration yesterday for delaying a last-minute regulation by her husband's administration to reduce the levels of arsenic in drinking water.
In a luncheon speech to the National Press Club, the New York Democrat and former first lady proposed an eight-point national agenda to carry on the Clinton administration's efforts against "hidden health hazards" such as arsenic, chemicals used to treat wood, and other environmental toxins that cause cancer, respiratory illness and other chronic diseases.
"It is the stealthy, crippling nature of these hazards that manifest themselves in unexpected cancers, brain tumors and other diseases that I think we have to address," Mrs. Clinton said to a sold-out crowd of reporters, editors, broadcast producers and lobbyists.
She told of field hearings she recently conducted with other members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in Fallon, Nev., home of the famed "Top Gun" naval air station, whose jet fuel has polluted the community's water supply to the point that drinking water contains 100 parts per billion of arsenic "10 times the level deemed safe by the Clinton administration," she said.
Citizen activists in Fallon and other communities suffering from toxic pollution and a high incidence of asthma, breast and bladder cancer, leukemia, and other chronic diseases in adults and children need federal data tracking and research to pinpoint the cause of community health problems, she said.
"I don't think we can leave this to local people fighting on their own. I think it's time for us to fight back on the national level," Mrs. Clinton said.
She added: "I can't mention the word arsenic without also saying how troubled I and so many others were about the Bush administration's delay in implementing tougher standards," referring to the temporary deferment of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation issued on the last day President Clinton was in office.
The regulation to lower allowable arsenic levels in drinking water from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion was estimated to cost the nation's water companies $605 million annually.
Mrs. Clinton was not asked to explain why the Clinton administration waited until its last day to issue the ruling. However, she acknowledged, "I know one of the reasons, and it was a legitimate reason, is that it would be expensive for many of the communities facing this challenge to do on their own."
The Bush administration has delayed implementing the ruling until the EPA completes its public consultation on the issue through Oct. 31.
Mrs. Clinton called for congressional enactment of "a comprehensive national tracking system for chronic disease," the brainchild of the Pew Environmental Health Commission, which estimated it would cost $275 million a year to implement.
She also proposed federally supported environmental health officers in every state's public health department, whose aim would be to assist citizen activist groups. Mrs. Clinton also demanded greater federal funding for disease research related to environmental toxins.

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