Wheeler Talks Rules with Senate EPW

On Wednesday, Andrew Wheeler testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Acting Administrator Wheeler focused the majority of his answers around certainty. There were only two questions related to drinking water; however, Wheeler did comment on preventing another disaster like Flint, Michigan. Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia brought up the uncertainty surrounding PFAS. The Senator wanted to encourage emphasis on PFAS regarding the chemical safety threshold and mentioned that she had previously encouraged transparency on the complex toxicological PFAS reports.

Senator Capito also asked Wheeler if he would agree that PFAS is a high priority for the EPA. Wheeler agreed and stated that PFAS was one of the first briefings he requested upon becoming Deputy Administrator. He acknowledged the concern surrounding PFAS, saying that it remains a high priority for him and the Agency. The Senator continued with her concern, asserting that we still do not have the appropriate safety levels for PFAS in the water or soil.

Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois highlighted the dangers of lead exposure and brought into question an interagency taskforce established under Scott Pruitt that had not briefed Congress on its progress. Senator Duckworth asked Wheeler if he would support reporting to Congress on the findings of this taskforce, to which he agreed.

Hopefully, Acting Administrator Wheeler sticks with his theme of establishing certainty within environmental regulation and applies this theme to drinking water protection. It is clear from this hearing that PFAS and lead are on the new Administrator’s radar, so ideally this will lead to a suite of implementable solutions. If you would like to view the hearing in its entirety, click here.