The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a spending bill this week that includes an amendment requiring the Trump administration to release a key scientific study about polyfluoroalkyl substances contamination. The chemicals have been detected in drinking water wells in Wainscott, Hampton Bays, Westhampton, Yaphank, and several other places throughout New York State.
The demand comes just a week after New York Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer joined eight other senators who want the study released. That story was reported in last week’s Independent. Schumer accused the Trump administration of “burying” the study, which was authored by the Environmental Working Group.
Internal emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and reported by Politico revealed that the top aides to Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt, as well as Department of Defense and White House officials, sought to block the study’s release, fearing a “public relations nightmare” that could follow, the senators said.
The study purportedly proposes safe levels for PFAS in drinking water at levels nearly six times lower than those the Environmental Protection Agency currently recommends.
The amendment to the committee report, authored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, directs the Department of Health and Human Services to publish the study within two weeks of the bill becoming law.
“Scott Pruitt and the White House clearly will do anything to hide information from the public on any number of issues, including the poisoned drinking water of 100 million Americans,” said EWG’s SVP, government affairs Scott Faber. “But lawmakers from both sides of the aisle understand full well how important clean drinking water is for their constituents and all Americans.”
There is increased concern that Pruitt will fight the release of the memo because the Trump administration has issued directives to relax a number of environmental safeguards.
Pruitt is reportedly working on a proposal to dramatically scale back an Obama-era regulation on water pollution, according to the New York Times. President Trump also wants to roll back other Obama-era measures to reduce climate warming, The Times reported.