News Feature | May 17, 2018

Report: White House Buried Water Crisis Data

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

A new report claims the White House and the U.S. EPA sought to bury a study that would reveal a nationwide drinking water crisis.

“Scott Pruitt’s EPA and the White House sought to block publication of a federal health study on a nationwide water-contamination crisis, after one Trump administration aide warned it would cause a ‘public relations nightmare,’ newly disclosed emails reveal,” Politico reported.

“The intervention early this year — not previously disclosed — came as HHS' Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) was preparing to publish its assessment of a class of toxic chemicals that has contaminated water supplies near military bases, chemical plants and other sites from New York to Michigan to West Virginia,” the report stated.

The study would have showed that perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) are unsafe for human health at a lower level than current U.S. EPA standards, the report said.

White House and U.S. EPA officials have been “fretting” about the potential need for stricter drinking water standards, according to The Hill.

The newspaper reported this week that the ATSDR is likely to recommend stricter standards for perfluorinated chemicals. The recommendation is expected to be six times stricter than the EPA’s current standards.

The impending recommendation has raised concerns in the Trump administration.

“Internal Trump administration emails, that the Union of Concerned Scientists obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, paint a picture of an administration bracing for the heightened standards, fearing the conflicting guidance's impact on other parts of the federal government,” The Hill reported.

Politico released one of the emails online.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is demanding an explanation from the Trump administration about the 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,” the report said.

Capito issued a statement to Politico about her concerns.

“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,” she said.