News Feature | December 27, 2017

Trump Environmental Nominee Allegedly Ignored Water Rule

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

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A Trump administration nominee is embroiled in controversy about alleged radiation contamination of drinking water.

“Kathleen Hartnett White, President Trump’s pick for a powerful White House environmental post, is backing away from her testimony before senators denying a role in under reporting radiation contamination in Texas drinking water,” Scripps News reported.

“At issue: White’s answer to a question from Sen. Thomas Carper, D-DE, about her role in helping public water systems across Texas underreport the amount of radiation present in their drinking water,” the report said.

White formerly served as Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) chair. Trump nominated her to lead the Council on Environmental Quality, which helps guide White House environmental policy. During a Senate hearing last month, White stated, “I would never, ever tell staff to under report health hazards.”

Critics say there are documents suggesting White may have played a role in underreporting radiation, according to Scripps.

“The Senate committee homed in on a 2004 document that showed White openly supported a TCEQ policy of subtracting the margin of error from tests for radiation contamination in water,” the report said.

“White had said in 2011...that she and the scientists with the Texas Radiation Advisory Board disagreed with the science that the EPA based its rules on.  She says the rules were too protective and would end up costing small communities tens of millions of dollars to comply,” the report said.

White defended her actions in written answers submitted to the Senate committee.

“I am aware of the EPA’s interpretation of its rule,” she wrote. “While I was at TCEQ, the agency followed TCEQ’s interpretation of what the plain language of the rule allowed.” She added that “the rule can logically and reasonably be interpreted to allow for the manner in which TCEQ addressed the ‘margin of error.’”

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