Senate votes for new arsenic standards for drinking water
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to require new arsenic standards for drinking water, approving compromise language that would add pressure on President Bush to lower acceptable levels of the carcinogen.
By a 97-1 vote, lawmakers voted to require the Environmental Protection Agency to immediately put new arsenic regulations into effect. The language said the EPA should protect ”those at greater risk” such as the young, old and ill of diseases arsenic has been linked to.
But the Senate provision was vaguer than a House measure approved last week, which would require the administration to maintain the maximum 10 parts per billion level that former President Clinton set before leaving office in January. In March, Bush put the new standards on hold, subject to further study, in effect leaving the 59-year-old 50 parts per billion requirement in place.
The proposal by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., won widespread support after Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said he would introduce legislation requiring federal assistance to communities that have to upgrade their water systems to lower their arsenic levels. Many communities in the West have higher amounts of arsenic in their water.
Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., said the Bush administration considers Boxer’s proposal ”an appropriate way to deal with arsenic in drinking water.”
Though the administration opposed the House provision, Bond said the Senate language is ”a happy resolution to the situation.”
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