It’s a “public relations nightmare” and so Pruitt’s EPA buries an important water study (with afternoon update)
A few Republicans (WV’s Capito, for one) are critical
Politico is reporting:
When Pruitt returns to Capitol Hill Wednesday, he will likely be asked to explain why EPA helped to bury a federal study that would have increased warnings about toxic chemicals found in hundreds of water supplies across the country. A handful of Republicans were quick to demand answers after POLITICO reported Monday that senior aides to Pruitt intervened after the White House warned of a "public relations nightmare" from the impending Health and Human Services Department assessment.
Among the handful is WV Senator Capito:
At least three Republican lawmakers have joined a host of Democrats in demanding answers from the Trump administration about the HHS study.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, which experienced a major chemical spill a few years ago and has a major PFOA* and PFOS problem, said she wants to see the study made public.
“It’s important that the findings of the study are released so we can determine the health impacts and any potential threats our communities may face as a result of exposure to perfluorinated chemicals. I would encourage the administration to look into this matter,” Capito, a member of the Appropriations subcommittee with EPA jurisdiction, where Pruitt will testify Wednesday, said in a statement to POLITICO.
Other news sources have picked up the story. (Here’s CBS News, for instance.) I think today’s hearing may generate even more coverage. Given their ongoing defense of Pruitt’s EPA, I’ll be interested how this is covered by our local “newspapers.”
*What is PFOA and PFOS? Politico explains:
Long used in Teflon and firefighting foam, the chemicals PFOA and PFOS are linked with certain cancers, thyroid problems and life-threatening pregnancy complications. Studies have found them in 98 percent of Americans’ blood, and communities from West Virginia to Michigan to New York have been in an uproar after discovering that their drinking water has been contaminated with the chemicals.
The blocked study was brought up at the hearing. As NPR reports:
"To block the publication of a public health study on a class of toxic chemicals that threaten water supplies around the country — including in Bennington [Vt.] — that's unconscionable," Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., told Pruitt in his opening remarks. "It's incomprehensible to the people in Bennington and in Vermont why an agency that works for them, whose charge is to protect their health, turns their back on them and tries to hide health dangers."
That was not the point of a majority of questions, however:
For the most part, however, questions about the Politico report ceded center stage to specific policies related to senators' home states — and, more often in the case of Democrats, the still-simmering allegations of excess spending.
Meanwhile, page 6 of the afternoon News-Register carried the first 30% of a long and already-dated AP story that previewed Pruitt's appearance.